Tech hits feds over green card mixup

Large technology companies and trade groups are expressing displeasure at a government reversal last month that delayed thousands of immigrants from filing paperwork for permanent residency. 

“This is a truly unfortunate example of poorly-conceived execution by your respective departments, one that furthers, rather than mitigates, an ever-growing impairment to our country’s ability to attract and retain the best talent in the world,” tech companies wrote in a letter to the State Department, the Homeland Security Department and the White House on Monday evening. 

The State Department issued a Visa Bulletin in early September that gave the green light for a number of visa-holders from China, India, the Philippines and Mexico to file their green card paperwork. 

But the State Department revised its bulletin late in the month without warning, potentially affecting up to 30,000 immigrants, according to a lawsuit challenging the reversal. 

Those affected, including many with high-skilled backgrounds, say they were heartbroken by the reversal and suffered financial setbacks that went into paying for the necessary paperwork and tests involved in the application process. 

“We are disappointed to see a lack of interagency coordination again place thousands at risk of financial loss and impairment,” the letter reads. 

The letter was signed by Microsoft, Google, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Cisco, as well as a number of trade groups representing the industry. 

Previous reports have quoted officials who blamed the reversal on a communications failure between the State Department and Homeland Security Department. After State issued the bulletin, Homeland Security found that the yearly cap on green cards, 140,000, would be broken if the bulletin was not changed. 

“Please be advised that DHS will rely on this revised bulletin, rather than the bulletin published on September 9, 2015, when considering whether an individual is eligible to file an application for adjustment of status,” the State Department wrote it its revised bulletin with little explanation.

The tech letter Monday notes that filing the “adjustment of status” application makes it easier for immigrants to travel outside the United States and increases job mobility. 

A number of people affected have filed a lawsuit in Seattle to keep the original bulletin in place. The tech companies argue that a similar mistake happened in 2007, and the government eventually “honored the originally published visa bulletin.”

“We urge you to consider taking the above recommended actions immediately and to restore the opportunity originally promised to this group of high skilled immigrants, whose contributions and personal investments benefit our country, and our economy, on a daily basis,” the letter reads.