Google, Uber, Amazon and other tech giants have asked the Department of Homeland Security to change its policies so that the children of highly skilled foreign workers can stay in the United States after age 21.
Under the current rules, children of H1-B visa holders — many of whom work in tech — have to leave the U.S. after their 21st birthday, even if they've grown up in the U.S. and the rest of their family remains in the country. These children of foreign workers can apply for a green card, but that process is notorious for delays and complexity.
The appeal from tech companies comes at a time of labor shortages in highly technical fields. The companies urged the administration “to establish more robust aging out policies” in a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“Policymakers have recognized the plight of the Dreamers – children brought to the U.S. by their parents, who know no other country and were left without legal status – and have provided interim relief through the DACA program,” the firms wrote in their letter. “Now, we urge policymakers to also address the needs of the more than 200,000 children of high-skilled immigrants who risk falling through the cracks of the immigration system.”
These children are sometimes referred to as “documented Dreamers,” and lawmakers have introduced legislation that would provide them a path to citizenship. In their letter, the companies called on Congress to pass that legislation.
In an interview with Axios, Google’s vice president of Government Affairs and Public Policy, Karan Bhatia, said the current policy doesn't just hurt those families, but it also harms American competitiveness. “The prospect of having their children having to self-deport when they turn 21 deters potential employees from coming to the United States, and also makes it harder to retain employees who have been here for a while," Bhatia said.
It's not just the children of H-1B visa holders who have struggled under U.S. policies. In previous years, their spouses on H-4 visas have also faced significant delays in receiving work authorizations as part of a broader strategy by the Trump administration to stall the program started by the Obama administration. Hundreds of lawsuits around the country were filed, and while many were successful in getting work permits before their cases were heard, some faced job losses, loss of health insurance and other basic freedoms.