I worked for a research center at the University of Virginia, which sponsored my original Green Card in a category called EB2 – for positions that require an advanced degree. However thanks to this ridiculously idiotic concept called retrogression, I could not file for the last stage of the process (I-485). At one point my entire team formed a startup and moved our research there. But I didn’t move because
- I knew my Green Card situation would be dicey
- It’s a startup. If it collapsed, my Green Card situation would be – deep trouble because I might have to leave the country.
So I switched to a different department at the University only to find that Green Card sponsorship is for that exact same position. So my new department started a new GC process for me (this one is a lot slower called EB3 because the posted position did not require an advanced degree).
Since my original position moved to the startup, at my request they continued my original Green Card process and filed new documentation showing that my position moved from the university to the startup and they would like to Substitute Employers (a process USCIS makes available in Successor in Interest cases) and at one point I could also file my I-485 along with a new second stage (I-140).
However USCIS rejected my I-140 because according to them this is not a successor in interest case and the position at the startup is not the exact same as the one at the University. At this point including filing fees, lawyer fees etc., I’m out more than $6000. My lawyer, Helen Konrad at McCandlish Holton has now given up – telling me that pursuing this further is a waste of money.
Also my third stage is in limbo. I have requested that it be attached to my other green card application but nobody knows if USCIS does that or not. There is no form for that, nor is there any proper procedure. One can only hope they do it in time. People can only switch jobs safely once the third stage is pending for more than six months. They can travel outside the country and do other work without being bothered about getting visas stamped**
Now I call this retrogression idiotic because, were I from some country other than India (where I’m from) or China, like for example Iraq or Afghanistan, I would already have had my green card, never would have had to deal with employer substitution or been unable to file my I-485 and deal with the nightmare that is American Immigration laws.
Luckily for me I have my other application which will take another 5 years, maybe? Maybe more considering that dates (the date by which you have to have filed your application to have it processed) have not moved forward much in the last three years:
Oct 06 EB3 dates – 22APR01
Oct 07 EB3 dates – 22APR01
Oct 08 EB3 dates – 01OCT01
Current EB3 dates – Unavailble until Oct 09, possibly still somewhere in 01
Last Known EB3 dates – 01NOV01 in Apri 09
My filing date – Nov05. Now if you do the math, the situation is so bad that it is ridiculous. In spite of the sorry situation for people who are in this country legally, Immigration reform always puts Illegals before legals.
**Without Visas is not as simple as it sounds. You need to pay USCIS $325 to provide you with a travel document that is only valid for one year. So Parchayi and me paid then $650 just so we can travel to India. To work you need to apply for an EAD (I forget how much that costs), which used to be for a year. But these days they are valid for two years.
How simple is the solution to this problem? It is really really simple. All that needs to happen is people need to be able to file their third stage even if there is retrogression. They can process the third stage after retrogression is over or whenever they want. But just the ability to apply is good enough to solve this problem completely. I’m in no hurry to get my green card as long as I know I’ll get one and I can still do whatever I want instead of being tied to one employer only, not being able to start my own business or do some freelancing without getting into sticky visa situations.
So all in all, US Immigration is messed up. With the upcoming CIR it is very well possible that you will be better off coming to US illegally and the smuggler who gets you across will charge you a lot less than USCIS and immigration lawyers and it will be a one time fee instead of the constant money-grubbing that USCIS will do with you.
How much do you think it costs to replace a lost document with USCIS? The answer is $340.
If you had to travel out of the country in an emergency, how long would you have to wait to get back to the US? The answer is 3 months? maybe?
If you want to read about even worse horror stories – Widow Penalty, Aged out kids, Illegal Citizens? – there are plenty most of which are caused by inefficiencies in the process and ridiculous laws that are never changed or have unintended effects.