Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Should Indian immigrants, H1 and F1 visa holder sit in the sidelines while watching the US election drama unfold?

If you have any connection to America – as a US citizen, immigrant,  an H1 worker or a foreign student or an Indian American expat like my, you cannot escape the politics and upcoming presidential elections.

As I get ready to request my absentee ballot via post for the US Federal elections, for myself and my wife, I am also reflecting on a constituency that is watching the elections from sidelines since the elections could impact their lives and careers. I know, since I jumped through the H1 B and immigration hoops for years before eventually becoming a naturalized citizen.

Nearly a million Indians live and work in the US on H1 B visas and another half-million Indian students are studying in schools and universities across America. Most Indian students move to American universities in the hopes of eventually finding an employer who will sponsor their H1 Visa. In the meantime millions of H1B visa holders are looking at decades long wait for a green card that will let them live and work in America permanently.

None of us has a crystal ball on the outcome of the elections or what the new administration will usher, but the position of the frontrunners are clear – Both President Biden and former president Trump are trying to sound tough and vocal on immigration.

Make no mistake, US immigration reform is a complex legislation that President and congress – Senators and Congressmen have to agree on. But in the meantime, the president also has executive powers to take decisions. Take the example of the issue of work-permits for spouses of H1 Visa holders.  

So what should Indians do while watching the US election drama unfold? While non-citizen immigrants don’t have a vote, they certainly have the clout.

Lean on your Indian American friends, colleagues and community to influence folks who do have a vote

Stand up and voice your opinion as future citizen and voters – after all you are legal immigrants on an eventual path to citizenship

Voice your opinion with your corporate lobbyists – tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple and other silicon valley giants have strong lobbying groups. Voice our concerns there to have it heard by American lawmakers

Highlight the economic prowess as taxpayers in America and influence your lawmakers “back home”

Indian leaders are signing off on Billions of dollars in American imports. In 2022, India's imports from the United States were worth over $47 billion.  Arms, Drones and Satellite technologies. Billions of dollars in Aircraft purchases from Boeing,

While non-citizen immigrants don’t have a vote, they certainly have the clout. Make your voice count.

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