USA Plans to Recapture Unused Green Cards; May Benefit Indian Professionals


Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Jul 10, 2023 01:54 PM IST

Ajay Bhutoria, an Indian-American member of the President's Advisory Panel, recently recommended recapturing the 2,30,000 unused US green cards to prevent wastage and relieve those who are dealing with backlogs.

USA Plans to Recapture Unused Green Cards; May Benefit Indian Professionals

A recent recommendation from a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders said to recapture all green cards from family and employment categories that have been unused since 1992. This move will benefit thousands of Indian Americans waiting for their green cards.

Ajay Bhutoria included in his recommendation, the recapture of more than 2,30,000 un-used employment-based green cards from 1992 to 2022. He suggested processing a part of it every fiscal year along with the annual limitation of 1,40,000 green cards for the given category. 

He confirmed that “Recapture Unused Green Cards and Prevent Future Green Card Waste” is meant to address the delays in bureaucratic activities in the Green Card application process while providing relief to those with backlogs. 

Also Read: Canada Conducts 2nd Round of STEM Category-Based Express Entry Draws

Congress authorises The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue a specific number of visas based on family and employment annually. The bureaucratic delays lead to Green Card under-utilisation which has resulted in the accumulation of unused ones over the years. 

Bhutoria said it is possible to manage the problem with two solutions. First, the DHS and the Department of State should aim to recapture unused family and employment green cards from 1992 to 2025. This includes recapturing more than 2,30,000 unused employment-based green cards for the last 20 years and processing a portion of them every year along with the annual quota of 1,40,000.

The second solution as suggested by him is that the State Department and DHS must collaborate to adopt a new policy that confirms that all green cards under the annual limit must be available for eligible immigrants even while the agencies are unable to process the relevant paperwork in the given fiscal year. He said that the policy should be applied with effect from a past date to recapture unused green cards. 

The recommendations are based on the negative impact of underutilised green cards on the US economy, individuals and their families. They represent the country’s loss of opportunities that would lead to a worsening of backlogs which consequently affect Indian-American, Filipino-American and Chinese families. 

Furthermore, temporary workers on H-1B visas are limited in their movement and can contribute less to the US economy due to the lack of a green card. When they turn 21, the children of these temporary employees run the possibility of losing their immigration status, he warned.

He claimed that his suggestion is consistent with measures put forth in the 117th Congress to recover green cards that US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had previously refused to grant as a result of procedural mistakes.

Bhutoria also commented that recapturing these unused green cards would mean an addition of billions of dollars to the economy, a reduction of backlogs for families waiting for green cards and mitigation of unnecessary bureaucratic limitations on legal immigration. 

Over the last 20 years, the Congressional Research Service mentions that the number of people who are on the waiting list for family-sponsored green cards has increased by 100%. 

As of 2020, about 4.2 million people were waiting for family-sponsored green cards with an average waiting time of 6 years. Similarly, employment-based green cards have around 1.2 million individuals with the same average wait time. In the case of Indian professionals, individuals are often waiting for more than 15 years to get green cards. 

Bhutoria appreciated the Biden government’s implementation of several recommendations of the commission. Last year in December, the commission suggested actions to reduce the visa appointment wait times significantly. The delays of visa appointments have been reduced to two to four weeks which allows individuals to plan their travel and immigration processes efficiently. Apart from that, students can now apply for the visa one year before the college admission date, providing them with greater flexibility and an easy transition. 

In 2020, the commission also suggested changing the ageing of children on parents' green card applications. According to him, the USCIS updated its Child Age-Out Calculation Policy to provide better justice and transparency to ensure that eligible children continue to be eligible for immigration benefits and do not age out of the system.

Also Read: US Citizenship Test to Toughen, Increasing Bar for English Proficiency by 2024

The Biden administration's dedication to assisting families and developing immigration policies that are more inclusive, effective and sensitive to the needs of various communities is reflected in these recent immigration updates. 

Source: Indian Express

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