Visa Crunch

Biden “wants to address the delays in the Green Card processing system”: White House Press Secretary

According to the White House, US President Joe Biden wants to alleviate the excessive delays in the Green Card processing system, a move that will help Indians working in America on the H-1B visa. At the daily press briefing on October 8, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “The president clearly wants to address the delays in the Green Card processing system as well.”

A Green Card, also known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document given to newcomers to the United States as proof that they have been granted the right to live permanently in the country. The existing immigration system, which imposes a 7% per country quota on allotment of the coveted Green Card or permanent legal residency, is wreaking havoc on Indian IT workers, the majority of whom are highly talented and come to the US primarily on H-1B work visas.

Psaki was answering a question on the unused employment-based Green Card numbers, on October 1, which will be renamed Legal Permanent Residency because the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is unable to give them to the millions of people in line for a Green Card.

One of the primary sources of anxiety among Indian-Americans and their dependent children residing here is the unreasonable delay in the Green Card process for hundreds of thousands of skilled Indian technology professionals, which can take decades. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that permits US companies to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. It is the most popular among Indian IT experts. Technology firms rely on it to recruit tens of thousands of workers from countries such as India and China each year.

The Biden administration and the US Congress had been pushed by Indian IT professionals to make the required legal modifications to prevent the Green Card slots from expiring. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks presented the Preserving Employment Visas Act earlier this week, which would allow the USCIS to save unneeded employment-based visas for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021.

“Ensuring that our immigration system is fair and orderly is one of my top priorities in Congress. These visas are already authorized by Congress and would have been used if not for the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Miller-Meeks. “My legislation would fuel the American recovery from Covid-19, contribute to long-term economic growth, and provide relief for healthcare providers by reducing the Green Card backlog,” she added. The bill is the House counterpart to Senator Thom Tillis’ S. 2828, which was introduced in September.

A total of 1,22,000 family-preference visas went unused in fiscal 2020. As a result, the number of available employment-based visas in FY21 increased to 2,26,000. This significant rise in employment-based visas offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to eliminate the Green Card backlog while also improving American competitiveness via legal immigration.

Disruptions at the USCIS could jeopardize these much-needed employment-based permits. As per recent court papers, the USCIS is in danger of wasting about 83,000 employment-based visas that expired on October 1st. This is on top of the 9,100 unused employment-based visas from the previous fiscal year. It would be a tremendous setback for American economic competitiveness and the healthcare industry if these visas were wasted.

A lawsuit brought by 125 Indian and Chinese citizens to avoid the expiration of employment-based green cards did not yield the anticipated outcomes. Judge of the US District Court (Maryland) did not rule on the subject of preserving the green cards until the day before the expiration date of September 30. Instead, he has ordered that the matter be split up into separate lawsuits. The Indian diaspora will be watching the House and Senate Bills closely in order to see how they go in addressing the green card backlog.

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