A presidential advisory council in the United States overwhelmingly recommended that President Joe Biden process all applications for green cards or permanent residency within six months.
The proposals of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (PACAANHPI), which have been sent to the White House for approval, are likely to bring cheers to tens of thousands of Indian-Americans and those who have been waiting for a Green Card for years, if not decades.
During the PACAANHPI conference, famous Indian-American community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria made a suggestion in this regard, which was overwhelmingly supported by all 25 commissioners. Last week, the proceedings of the summit in the nation’s capital were webcast live. The advisory commission recommended that US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) review their processes, systems, and policies and establish new internal cycle time goals by streamlining processes, removing redundant steps if any, automating any manual approvals, improving their internal dashboards and reporting system, and enhancing policies to reduce the pending green card backlog.
The recommendations aim to minimise the cycle time for processing all forms pertaining to family-based green card applications, DACA renewals, and all other green card applications to six months, and to issue adjudication decisions within six months of receiving the application. The committee recommended that the National Visa Center (NVC) State Department facility hire additional officers to increase their capacity to process green card applications interviews by 100% in three months beginning August 2022 and to increase Green card applications visa interviews and adjudicate decisions by 150% by April 2023, up from a capacity of 32,439 in April 2022.
“Thereafter, Green Card visa interviews and visa processing timelines should be no longer than six months,” it stated.
To make it easier for immigrants to stay and work in the nation, the group suggested that the USCIS assess and adjudicate petitions for work permits, travel papers, and temporary status extensions or adjustments within three months. Only 65,452 family preference green cards were awarded in fiscal 2021, out of the annual 226,000 available, leaving hundreds of thousands of green cards unused (many of which are likely to be permanently discarded in the future) and many more families needlessly divided.
According to Mr. Bhutoria’s policy document, there were 421,358 pending interviews in April, up from 436,700 in March. He noted that, while the US population has risen significantly in recent decades, the immigration system has not evolved to keep up. Annual immigration levels were established in the early 1990s and have remained mostly constant since he claims.
To complicate things further, the technique used to compute the annual number of employment-and-family-based immigrants is severely defective, resulting in family-based immigration levels being set at their absolute minimum every year for the past 20 years, whereas hundreds of thousands of green cards for family members go unused, never utilised by any persons when they could instead be used to reunite families, according to Mr. Bhutoria.
“The enormous wait period for a green card to become available causes significant suffering for American families who are forced to wait decades to reconnect with their loved ones, despite the fact that those persons are already qualified to immigrate right now.”
“Family separation imposes evident logistical, economic, and emotional challenges on families, and the rising nature of the backlogs makes the process unclear and future planning impossible,” he said.
The panel also advised that USCIS expand premium processing to more employment-based green card applications, all work permit petitions, and temporary immigration status extension requests, allowing applicants to pay USD 2,500 to have their cases resolved within 45 days in a phased manner.
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