Year after year, thousands of Indians apply for the US green card in order to materialise their big American dream.
But, as the number of green cards to be issued is capped around 7 percent against applications for each country in the US, a vast majority of Indian applicants have no choice but to wait a long time for their turn.
Over 3.5 lakh in waiting
Recent data from the US immigration agency stated that a total of 3,69,322 applicants, who have approved employment visa petitions, are awaiting visa availability under the EB2 and EB3 (for professionals and skilled workers) categories.
Technology firms use EB2 and EB3 categories to sponsor visas for immigrant workers. Applicants get a green card or permanent residence on these visas.
Talking about the data on the US immigration website of applications waiting for green cards, LawQuest’s Poorvi Chothani told The Economic Times, “This only tells you how many people are waiting for their visa numbers to get a green card.”
Why is the wait so long?
“They have not provided the number of family members attached to these principal applicants, which is important because visas granted to family members are counted towards the per-country maximum allowed each year. So, we are looking at several decades of wait time,” the managing partner at LawQuest told ET.
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.
Indians filed for highest number of employment-based green cards
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, as per data released by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
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.
H-1B and L-1 visa holders can only live and work in the US for a limited number of years. Therefore, most of them apply for permanent resident status, within a few years of arriving in the United States.
Changes the immigration agency is making
Additionally, the immigration agency this year has been doing away with in-person interviews for several applications to speed up the processing of green cards.
“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,” Khanna told ET.
Last fiscal year, around 80,000 green cards were unused due to processing delays.
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