WASHINGTON, DC – More than 50 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are urging the Biden administration to expedite the process for thousands of applicants stuck in green card backlogs, granting them the opportunity to apply for permanent residency much earlier than they currently can.
In a letter issued on Friday, 58 House members emphasized that allowing all immigrants with an approved employment-based immigrant petition to file their applications as soon as the new fiscal year commences would ensure the utilization of all available green cards each year.
While an earlier application date wouldn’t guarantee an expedited path to permanent residency, it would provide these immigrants with interim relief, such as increased flexibility for employment and travel outside the United States during their wait for green cards.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), a key signatory of the letter, stated that bureaucratic delays in the legal immigration system not only hinder the economy but also leave many families in a state of uncertainty.
The lawmakers suggested that the Administration could alleviate this burden and simultaneously bolster the economy and job creation by utilizing its existing authority under the law.
Currently, employment-based green cards are limited to 140,000 slots per year, not accounting for additional visas that become available due to unused family-based visas from the previous year. Moreover, there are additional restrictions that cap the percentage of green cards allotted based on the applicant’s country of origin. Consequently, immigrants from high-volume countries like India would still face significant waiting periods even if the change proposed by the lawmakers were to be implemented.
The State Department informs immigrants of their eligibility to apply for a green card through a monthly publication known as the Visa Bulletin. Eligibility dates are determined by the date an immigrant petition was filed and an estimation of available visas, a process carried out jointly by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.