In an eloquent display of 'Gandhigiri', unhappy Indian green card seekers sent hundreds of flowers to the US immigration agency to protest a last-minute reversal in policy that would impede their way to permanent residency.
Inspired by the hit Hindi movie Lage Raho Munnabhai that extolled Gandhian ways of non-violent protest, the green card applicants plan to send around a thousand flower deliveries to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Emilio Gonzalez in a three-day campaign that started on Tuesday.
The protest followed the abrupt reversal last week of a June announcement offering expedited processing of green card petitions for thousands of skilled foreign professionals working under H1-B visas - reserved for skilled workers in computing, engineering and other special professions.
Thousands of such visa holders scrambled and spent money on lawyers and medical exams to beat the July 1 deadline for green card applications. The abrupt change sent them back to the queue for 2008.
Besides India, skilled workers from China, Poland and many other countries will now have to spend more time and money to get the coveted green cards - a halfway house to US citizenship.
"The idea is to push them to honour their earlier notification," said Aman Kapoor, founder of Immigration Voice, a forum that inspired the unusual protest.
Indians are the worst hit by country quota caps for immigration visas, which treat a billion strong India, boasting a highly skilled workforce, on par with a country like Trinidad and Tobago of one million souls, he said.
On its part, the USCIS response was equally pacific. It plans to forward the flowers to Walter Reed Army Medical Centre and Bethesda Naval Hospital in Washington, the main facilities treating US soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Gonzales in a statement on the agency website.