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Storm clouds loom over an American flag in Convent
Reuters/Jonathan Bachman
Silver lining.
GREEN-LIGHTING

To calm H-1B nerves, American employers are sponsoring green cards faster

Ananya Bhattacharya
By Ananya Bhattacharya

Tech reporter

As the panic around the clampdown on H-1B visas by the Donald Trump administration mounts, US employers are trying to make their non-American talent feel secure.

In 2020, four in five employers sponsored green cards for their foreign workers within one year of employment, up from two-thirds in the year prior, according to immigration law firm Envoy Global.

Among them, a quarter did it immediately after hiring a candidate.

Chicago-based Envoy Global surveyed 433 human resources professionals and hiring managers across a variety of industries and company sizes.

In December 2019, an estimated 800,000 foreign nationals working legally in the US were awaiting green cards. Most of them were Indian. This group faces the worst backlog when it comes to getting a green card, thanks to a 7%-per-country cap on allocations each year.

Libertarian think tank CATO Institute estimates that the wait time for Indians with advanced degrees to get permanent residency in the US is 49 years at the current pace of processing.

The H-1B visa lets foreigners live and work in the US for up to six years. Since Trump took office in 2016, red tape around the applications has significantly worsened and rejections in this category have soared.

Nearly three-quarters of American companies in the poll said they have sponsored permanent residency for a foreign national.

They’re not only sponsoring green cards faster this year, but are also trying to give out the residency permits in higher numbers and covering visa-related costs.

However, American employers are also extra cautious while helping their foreign workers. Over 30% have added a clause for employees to reimburse them if they leave within a certain time frame.

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