The backlog

The president says he wants them. Tech companies say they want them. So why are some of the region’s most talented workers waiting a lifetime to gain citizenship.

The cities throughout the Puget Sound region are home to Amazon, Microsoft, and tons of other tech companies—many of which hire a significant number of their employees on H1B visas. These are temporary work permits designed for foreign workers with specific kinds of skills and expertise. In recent years, a vast majority of those workers have come from India. And when they and their employers apply for permanent residency—something that’s legally required after six years on an H1B—that’s when they run into problems. Workers and the companies that hire them are insistent that the system needs to change. Their critics, meanwhile, argue that H1B holders are taking jobs away from Americans and that the current system is more than fair. This week, Seattle Weekly staff writer Melissa Hellmann and H1B visa holder Lokesh Marenayakanapalya discuss the gigantic green card backlog for Indians and the impact it is having on the lives and families of thousands of our area’s tech workers.

Featuring interviews with Melissa Hellmann and Lokesh Marenayakanapalya; performance by Mark Siano.

Music by Leeni Ramadan, Jahzzar, and The Insider

This week’s cover photo is courtesy GC Reforms and was taken in downtown Bellevue during a rally in late February.

More in Northwest

Photo courtesy of Neelam Chahlia 
                                Redmond’s Neelam Chahlia crowned as Mrs. Washington America and competing for the national Mrs. America title on Aug. 26.
Redmond’s Chahlia to compete for Mrs. America 2020 title

Mrs. Washington America winner says her journey embodies the ‘American Dream.’

King County Correctional Facility is located at 500 5th Ave., Seattle. File photo
King County jail’s leaky pipes have national implications

Lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court alleges Aquatherm has been selling faulty pipes.

VoteWA is a $9.5 million program that came online last May and is meant to unify all 39 county voting systems in the state into a single entity. Courtesy image
WA’s new voting system concerns county elections officials

VoteWA has run into some problems in recent months as the Aug. 6 primary election draws closer.

‘Feedback loops’ of methane, CO2 echo environmental problem beyond Washington

University of Washington among researchers of climate change’s effects in global temperatures.

PSE’s battery storage project could help the clean energy roll-out

The tiny pilot project in Glacier could eventually be expanded.

Courtesy photo
King County Sheriff’s Office has been giving ICE unredacted information

Both the office and jail have supplied the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Mukilteo schools may soon have state’s highest paid teachers

Teachers ratified a new contract Monday and the Board of Education will consider it next month.

Among 9 other candidates, Inslee gets his 6 minutes of fame

Here’s what the governor, a longshot presidential candidate, said in Miami Wednesday night.

What’s next for Washington’s 2045 green energy goal?

The Legislature set the goal, but how does the state actually get there?

Tasting room proposal could redefine alcohol production in King County

Pilot program would benefit wineries, breweries and distilleries. Several farmers are concerned.

Climbers rescued after days on Rainier

Several rescue attempts went awry, thanks to bad weather and flying conditions.

Rick Steves to give $1 million yearly to stop climate change

“If we are in the travel business, we are contributing to the destruction of our environment,” he said.