(NewsNation) — More than 400,000 Indians hoping to get green cards in the U.S. will die while still on the waiting list, according to new analysis from the Cato Institute.
The U.S. immigration system is known for having long waits for those seeking to become permanent residents, and immigrants from India face the longest waits of all.
The U.S. caps employment-based green cards at 140,000 per year, and no country may use more than 7% of the available green cards. When no more green cards are available, people are put on a waitlist that reached 1.8 million cases this year.
Those on the list already have jobs in the U.S. and are legally in the country on an employment visa but hope to become permanent residents.
Indians make up 1.1 million of those cases, meaning new applicants face a lifetime wait, and more than 400,000 are expected to die while still on the waitlist.
The majority of workers are those with higher education. Applicants with advanced degrees, categorized as EB-2, made up more than half of those on the waiting list, and 19% fell into the EB-3 category, which is for those with at least a bachelor’s degree.
The EB‑4 category for those with certain government affiliations, including Afghani and Iraqi interpreters as well as abandoned children, accounted for 13%, and the EB-5 category for major investors made up 6% of the waiting list. Just 3% of those on the waiting list fell into the EB-3O category, which applies to those in jobs that do not require a college degree.
As Indians make up the vast majority of all cases, they face waitlists that are more than a lifetime long. Those in EB-2 and EB-3 (which the institute combined because applicants move between the two) face a wait time of 134 years.
That wait time far outstrips the next-closest country in the category, China, where applicants face a 17-year wait. Those from the Philippines, on the other hand, have just a 2-year wait.
Accounting for deaths and aging out, the wait time drops to 54 years, as opposed to 13 years for those in China and one year for those in the Philippines.
That backlog comes on top of an 8.3 million case backlog for family-based immigration, leaving those who hope to come to the U.S. legally with waits that can also last a lifetime.