covid doctors

Doctors test hospital staff with flu-like symptoms for coronavirus in set-up tents to triage possible COVID-19 patients outside before they enter the main emergency department area at St. Barnabas hospital in the Bronx on March 24, 2020 in New York City. (Misha Friedman/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Hundreds of Indian doctors fighting the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. have been stuck in the green card backlog, facing additional anxiety and uncertainty of their stay in America amid the health crisis, a media report said.

Santhi Bhushan, an Indian internist practicing in Springfield, Illinois, has been clocking in extra hours as he was one of the thousands of physicians on the front line in the battle against the coronavirus, the American Bazaar said in the report on March 19.

Currently he is in quarantine after being exposed to the deadly virus during his service.

Nitesh Jain, a lung specialist and ICU physician, is also working round the clock as the numbers of virus affected people continue to swell across the U.S. 

While Jain and Bhushan are happy to go that extra mile to help the country they are living in during this hour of crisis, they face a difficult reality like many other Indian doctors in America.

Bhushan will have to wait for nearly 100 years before he can get permanent residency or the green card in the U.S. where has been living in for decades.

His daughter who grew up in Springfield, Illinois, will also have to self-deport as soon as she turns 21, causing family separation.

Similarly, Jain, who has spent the last one decade serving patients in rural America, too, faces a similar wait before he gets the green card to call America his permanent home.

The two were among thousands of Indian citizens who face a decades-long wait to get the coveted green card due to a 7 percent per country annual limit under the current immigration system, said the report. 

Immigration Voice, a non-profit working towards alleviating immigration problems faced by Indian Americans and Indian immigrants in the U.S., highlighted the two doctors' stories to stress the alarming urgency of passing S.386 or Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act.

Thousands of Indians stuck in the green card backlog have been rooting for S.386, a bill aimed to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The bill seeks to eliminate the per-country numerical limits for employment-based immigrants and increase such limits for family-sponsored immigrants, and for other purposes.

"Congress must pass S.386 so Nitesh Jain who is fighting for COVID-19 pandemic is recognized for his skills and contributions to the community instead of being discriminated against for the country he was born in," the organization tweeted.

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