(Note: Green Cards issued are limited annually to around 40,000 per year per category (EB1, EB2, EB3).
Trends come and go
The AILA welcomed the January 2022 Biden Administration’s support of changes
in policy to attract and retain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) talent into this country. This is a step in the right direction. Ingram states, “Sometimes, whatever the work is, especially in STEM (in which I specialize), companies cannot find the exact expertise in the U.S. talent pool. Yet, critical projects, research, and innovation still must move forward.” But he worries that the system will still bog down.
In his two decades in the business of helping immigrants obtain Green Cards, and after U.S. government administration changes about every four years, Ingram is all too aware of ebbs and flows in immigration law. Regardless, it’s tricky to navigate, especially when some applicants struggle with English, not to mention government forms. His approach includes lots of painstaking education about the process and hours of coaching, practice, hand-holding, as well as motivational pep talks.
The brick wall
One of the reasons the EB1 visa is so challenging is that the “adjudicators”—the human beings who have the power to approve or deny visa applications—are inconsistent in their interpretation of immigration law. The adjudicator is a “gatekeeper.” Their job is vital to keeping Americans employed and assuring that the United States is safe from unsavory folks, while also welcoming the best and brightest to this country.
“The system surrounding adjudicators is flawed,”Ingram explains, “and it takes diligence, grit, and a lot of experience to get through (and sometimes around) these folks.” As seen in an earlier National Business Post immigration article, Don’t Give Up
, some applicants have to wait years.
As for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) adjudicators, Ingram continues,“about one-third of them appear to be unfamiliar with the regulations and case law and seem to invent their own standards of adjudication.” There is an appeals process, and “I do not hesitate to cite Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) decisions if a particular adjudicator is not following the rules.”
It’s is a labor of love for Ingram,“My clients will attest to the fact that completing the EB1 visa application is a full-time job outside their day job.” To that end, the educational tutorials and videos he provides let clients/applicants study as time permits. Then, when the client is ready, they hire Ingram’s firm to help them prepare the mountain of forms and then scrutinize their case before submission.
“We act as an adjudicator to see if the case as prepared will pass. We support on the one hand, but we push back hard on the candidate, trying to find holes and patch them. It’s an uphill battle, and we want them to be prepared for it. I think the difficulty is what makes it the most satisfying for me,” Ingram confesses and it seems it is the same for his satisfied clients.
The U.S. Silicon Valley will always need STEM talent, but there are still only so many Green Card slots available. With the pandemic, the demand for Green Cards increased as jobs became scarcer, and families worried their “dead-end” visas would not be renewed. The U.S. Immigration downsized as well, creating more challenges for Ingram’s firm but Ingram continues to pull through for his clients with a high success rate.
Ingram advises, “It’s good to keep busy, building one’s case or professional brand. I always advise clients to have a “backup” category, write scholarly articles, serve as a peer reviewer in your field. It all helps build your case. Just keep improving your stature and hang in there.”
As Ingram explains, the end result will be that the individual will be free to stay in the United States without an employer sponsor and without fear of losing all they’ve worked to achieve with their U.S. based job.
It’s worth the effort.
As we have come to realize over the last couple of years, nothing comes easy. We are slowly coming out of the pandemic. The economy is improving. But as we have come to find out, there are many twists and turns on the path to where we want to go. Becoming a permanent resident of the United States is no different. However, thankfully, Chris Ingram has been through the process himself, and hence, as an attorney, has become a champion to those who are starting the process. If you are involved in a case, or would like further advice, Chris can be reached through his site, Break Through USA
EB1-A is for “extraordinary ability” in sciences, education, sports, arts, and business and is the hardest to obtain. It can be self-sponsored.
EB1-B is for “exceptional ability” of researchers, professors, and others with advanced degrees. It requires sponsorship.
EB1-C is for multinational executives or managers to apply for this visa. This one requires sponsorship too.
While Employment-Based and Family-Based Green Cards grant lawful permanent residence (LPR), around 30 other visas and subcategories only support temporary admittance into the States.
For instance, on the O-1 visa (for science and business), the maximum one can stay is three years before applying for an extension in one-year increments. Anything that is not a Green Card is called a dead-end visa. Ingram works to keep people out of dead ends because those are where frustration and heartache come in. Sometimes families have to endure heartache and leave after spending years in the United States. And the USCIS is confusing, changeable, and exasperating, which is why it’s difficult to remain positive and stay the course. Many people simply give up.
Furthermore, when the immigrant needs a sponsor, some employers who know of that prerequisite take advantage of impermanent visa holders by trying to pay them less or holding the sponsorship carrot as a means to get the work they need doing at a lower price. This makes Ingram nuts, and the AILA agrees.