Green Card applicants have been waiting for years because of huge backlogs. Now, the US President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, has proposed reducing the processing time. Mint explains the proposals.
Why is the Green Card so coveted?
A Green Card holder is a permanent resident of the US, one who is granted the permission to live and work in the country on a permanent basis. As proof of that status, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants a person a permanent resident card. Many skilled professionals who migrate to the US for better opportunities prefer a permanent citizenship, making the Green Card programme coveted. One can apply for permanent resident status in several ways, including being sponsored by a family member or an US employer and through humanitarian programmes.
What are the new recommendations?
The advisory commission has recommended that USCIS reduce the green card backlogs by reviewing their processes, systems, and policies and establishing new internal cycle time goals. This, the panel recommends, can be done by removing redundant steps, automating manual approvals, improving internal dashboards and reporting systems, and enhancing other policies. The objective must be to reduce the processing time for all forms of Green Card applications to six months. The panel also recommended the hiring of additional officers to process the applications from August 2022.
Why are these proposals important now?
The current immigration system has caused a huge backlog. Many applicants have to wait for years. In 2021, only 65,452 family preference Green Cards were issued out of the annual 226,000 available. There were 421,358 pending interviews in April compared to 436,700 in March. Thus, many families planning to move to the US were deterred from doing so.
What are the reasons behind the backlog?
Experts believe there are multiple reasons for the cases piling up. First, there are way too many applications and the US immigration system is under-funded and lacks the tools and resources to handle such volumes. Second, there could be inefficiencies in the system. Third, the system is not very well organized in terms of speed, design, and capabilities to handle high volumes. Fourth, the covid-19 pandemic has resulted in months of shutdowns and employees falling sick, resulting in delays.
What is the implication for Indian techies?
Indian IT professionals who come to the US on H-1B work visas are among the worst sufferers of the current immigration system, which imposes a 7% per country quota on allotment of the Green Card. A more efficient immigration system will help Indian IT professionals get faster approvals to become US citizens. This would, in turn, give them greater flexibility in choosing employment within the country as compared to H-1B employment, which has stringent employment terms.