In 2005, two years after Sameer Sahay arrived in the United States from India to pursue an MBA, he was thrilled when an Oregon health care company hired him and agreed to sponsor his green card. His life as an American, he thought, had begun.
Twelve years later, Sahay, now 50, is still a data architect, still working for the same firm, and still waiting for that green card. It’s not clear when he’ll clear the government backlog. He does know that his provisional status stalled his career — changing jobs would have required the company to file a new petition.
“Personally, I have sacrificed my career to help my family to have a better life,” Sahay says. “That has taken its toll. Had I gotten a green card, I could have moved on, moved up, done a lot more things. This held me where I was 10 years ago.”
Tangled and contradictory immigration policies of this sort have frustrated Indian immigrants for years, but the United States was seen as a prize worth pursuing. Now, though, many Indians — long a vital pillar of U.S. hospitals, tech firms, and engineering efforts — are reconsidering their options. Despite a chummy Rose Garden meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June, the permanent legal status of many Indians in America has become far more uncertain since Trump’s election.
In the president’s short time in office, his promises and policies — from the “Muslim ban” to a directive that may alter who gets a work visa — have convinced many foreign nationals that they are not welcome. For many of the 2.4 million Indian nationals living in the United States, including roughly 1 million who are scientists and engineers, the fears are existential; although roughly 45 percent are naturalized citizens, hundreds of thousands still depend on impermanent visas that must be periodically renewed.
Changes in the U.S. skilled visa scheme could trigger large economic and intellectual losses, especially in states with many South Asian residents such as California and New Jersey. Some foreign nationals there wonder if Trump’s policies will trigger an Indian brain drain.
Read more at Business Insider.