Almost all of these are applicants under the EB2 and EB3 (for professionals and skilled workers) categories, used by technology companies to sponsor visas for immigrant workers. The green card, or permanent residence, option is available on these visas.
“This only tells you how many people are waiting for their visa numbers to get a green card. They have not provided the number of family members that are attached to these principal applicants, and this is important because visas granted to family members are also counted towards the per-country maximum allowed each year. So, we are looking at several decades of wait time,” said Poorvi Chothani, managing partner at LawQuest, a global immigration law firm.
These applicants have an approved Form 1-140 which is the first step towards an employment-based green card. “After an I-140 is approved, employment-based applicants who are Indian-born usually have to wait several years for their priority dates to become current. After the dates become current, the final step of the green card, the issuance of the immigrant visa, can further take several years because of the USCIS processing delays,” said Rajiv S Khanna, managing partner at immigration.com.
As per data released by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Indians filed the highest number of I-140 petitions in the first two quarters of fiscal 2022 (October 2021-March 2022), in line with the trends over the last several years. The agency received 37,719 applications in the six-month period. In the same period, 25,274 applications were approved, including some filed earlier. This doesn’t mean that they have been issued green cards.
The US agency has sped up processing of employment-based green cards this year, doing away with in-person interviews for several of the applicants. “Interviewing all employment-based applicants was a practice implemented by the Trump administration that adds multiple years to the green card processing. Historically, employment-based green card applicants within the US rarely had to go through personal interviews,” said Khanna. Last fiscal year, nearly 80,000 green cards went unused on account of processing delays, which the immigration agency is trying to avoid this year.