Visa Crunch

To Recapture Unused Green Cards, ‘Build Back Better Act’ by Biden Administration Needs Stronger Appeal

According to Cato Institute research, the Recently announced US budget reconciliation plan (or Build Back Better Act), is a proposition for recapturing wasted family and employment-based green card numbers from 1992 to 2021. If this idea is approved, it will benefit thousands of delayed skilled Indians who have been waiting for an employment-based green card for about 84 years.

This comes amid the most recent round of immigration measures in the United States. This has been named the Build Better Act or Plan C, which Democrats are attempting to cram into budget reconciliation. The law seeks to “recapture” unused green cards by allowing immigrants who were rejected visas – either owing to executive orders or Covid-19 limits – to reapply for their visas after the bill’s passage.

Furthermore, if specific criteria are met, certain green cards will be free from national or global visa numerical limits and their status will be changed to that of a lawful permanent resident. In order to seek an exemption, both family-based visa and employment-based green card holders, and the individual seeking the exemption, must pay a fine.

There’s an advantage in the bill of preventing the measure from being filibustered in the Senate. There are also multiple barriers in the way that prohibits it from making it into the final reconciliation legislation. But this may be the biggest shot and the best opportunity to go ahead.

Since 1992, hundreds of thousands of green cards sanctioned by the US Congress have gone unissued due to administrative problems and setbacks. Many people were affected by the pandemic, but it also provided a new ray of hope for individuals who were caught in the employment-based green card backlog.

When the number of unused family-based green cards increased during Covid-19 due to the closure of US consulates around the world, they were shifted to the employment-based category. When the rollover permitted roughly 2,62,000 green cards to be accessible, given the usual number of 1,40,000, Indian and Chinese employees, who make up the majority of the employment-based green card backlog, projected their wait periods to be cut by years.

However, the backlog could not be reduced significantly due to a combination of factors, including the Trump administration’s time-consuming processing procedures, a hiring block at USCIS just before the pandemic, and restricted processing capabilities during the Covid-19 virus. The big opportunity shut, and 80,000 green cards were once again squandered as September ended.

The Democrats have been following the trend of advocating for all-or-nothing comprehensive immigration reform, which has continually failed to cross the finish line since early 2000. “Both sides of the aisle are aware of the positives of resolving the backlog problem yet they are not solving it. There is also a general lack of political will in wanting to address the bigger immigration issue as well and that is clear because, under all sorts of permutations and combinations of the White House and Congress, the immigration reform couldn’t pass”, said Aman Kapoor, President of Immigration Voice.

Kapoor also said that “The green card backlog is not there by chance. It’s there by design. Big businesses say one thing and mean the other. Keeping an army of immigrants in the backlog allows them to have power over them because once they acquire green cards, they are free of their employers.”

Another common hurdle is the misconception that clearing the backlog will only benefit a specific group of people — Indian and Chinese foreign workers. A broad group of immigrants from other nations will benefit as well. A substantial number of 95 organizations led by the Niskanen Center and AILA have written to Senators urging them to include green card recapture and accelerated adjustment of status in the reconciliation bill although the destiny of green card recovery in the reconciliation bill is still unknown.

This lengthy list demonstrates the breadth of support for the measures from all sectors of the immigrant advocacy community, and it is hoped that it would assist the Senate in making a favourable decision on the provisions.

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