Will Indian Be Able To See The Light In The Green Card Tunnel?
Green Cards that provide lawful P.R. in the U.S. can be obtained through certain family-based relations or via employment in the U.S.
Under the employment-based route, 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are available each fiscal year for foreign workers and their spouses and children. Further, these visas' allotment is capped at 7% per country.
As a result of these caps, many Indian professionals who work in the U.S. primarily on H-1B visas, despite being approved for G.C. encounter extensively long wait times to get the green cards.
In 2019, the G.C. 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.
Many U.S. business leaders believe that the backlog could push skilled Indian workers out of the system and force them to pursue citizenship elsewhere. In the recent past, the green card backlog fueled a debate about whether to x the wait time for those already in the queue or allowed broader immigration so that more workers can get permanent residency.
On Dec. 2, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed legislation – Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act - to eliminate the 7% per country-cap on G.C. 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.
To be considered again, this legislation would have to be reintroduced in the new Congress, passed by both chambers with differences, if any reconciled, and signed into law by the President.
But the good news is that President Biden's government has committed to working with Congress to address the long green card backlogs. In fact, on his very first day in office, 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 - Citizenship Act of 2021 (the Bill) – if passed into law, will help thousands of Indian I.T. professionals stuck in the long green card queues.