Green cards provide a lawful permanent residency for Indians living in America either through family-based relations or employment.
These visas are capped at 7% per country. As a result of these caps, a large number of Indian professionals who work in the U.S. primarily on H-1B visas, despite being approved for green cards, encounter extensively long wait times to attain Green cards. The wait times are so long that even those who applied in 2009 or 2010 haven’t gotten their GC until today. This might discourage skilled Indians from pursuing their career in the USA and might encourage them to look for opportunities and citizenship elsewhere.
In 2019, the green card backlog touched 800,000, with over 60% of these being Indians. As per many reports, the wait time is majorly attributed to the annual quota, which has remained unchanged since 1990.
How will the current administration fix these long queues along with their consideration for broader immigration?
On Dec. 2, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed legislation – Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act – to eliminate the 7% per country-cap on green card applicants, among other things, which would have ended the painfully long wait for thousands of green card hopefuls. But the legislation failed as its different versions of 2019 (H.R. 1044 and S. 386) passed by the House and Senate in July 2019 and December 2020, respectively were not reconciled before the end of the 116th Session of Congress.
USA President Biden’s administration has committed to working with Congress to resolve the long green card backlogs. Joe Biden sent a comprehensive immigration bill to Congress, which among other things, proposes to remove the per-country cap for employment-based green cards. This bill – the Citizenship Act of 2021 (the Bill) – if passed into law will help thousands of Indian IT professionals stuck in the long green card queues.
As per an analysis by Boundless, there would be a 35 % annual increase in green car approvals if the proposed bill in ordained. It estimates that the no. of immigrants getting lawful PR of green card would increase by 375,500 each year to 1.5 million overall if U.S Citizenship Act is passed.
This bill aims to resolve the long queues and eliminate the per cap for each country. This bill might be the ticket to clear the path to citizenship in the USA.