According to Advisory Commission member Ajay Bhutoria, idle green cards represent wasted chances for the country and lead to rising backlogs, which disproportionately affect Indian-American, Filipino-American, and Chinese-American families.
A member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders has recommended that all unused green cards for family and employment categories since 1992 be recaptured, which could benefit thousands of Indian Americans waiting for their green cards.
This includes the recapture of more than 2,30,000 unused employment-based green cards from 1992 to 2022, as well as processing a portion of these each fiscal year in addition to the annual limit of 1,40,000 for this category, according to Indian-American Mr. Ajay Bhutoria’s recommendations submitted to the commission.
“Recapture Unused Green Cards and Prevent Future Green Card Waste” intends to overcome bureaucratic delays in the green card application process and bring assistance to people stuck in backlogs.
Congress has given the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authority to award a certain number of family-based and employment-based immigrant visas each year.
However, he noted, bureaucratic delays have resulted in the underutilization of existing green cards, resulting in the buildup of unused green cards over time.
Mr. Bhutoria presented two major strategies to address this.
In the beginning, the Departments of Homeland Security and State should reclaim unneeded green cards for family and work categories from 1992 through 2025.
This includes recapturing more than 2,30,000 unused employment-based green cards from 1992 to 2022, and processing a portion of them each fiscal year in addition to the employment-based category’s annual maximum of 1,40,000, he added.
Second, the State Department, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, should establish a new policy to ensure that all green cards, up to the yearly limit, are accessible to qualified immigrants even if the agencies cannot execute the necessary documentation throughout the fiscal year. He believes that this policy should be used retrospectively to reclaim green cards that were unused before the new policy went into force.
Mr. Bhutoria stated that his advice highlights the harmful impact of unused green cards on individuals, families, and the economy.
According to Mr. Bhutoria, the wasted green cards represent missed chances for the country and lead to rising backlogs, disproportionately hurting Indian-American, Filipino-American, and Chinese-American families.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the number of people on the waiting list for family-sponsored green cards has increased by more than 100% over the last two decades.
As of 2020, around 4.2 million people were waiting for family-sponsored green cards, with a six-year average wait period. Approximately 1.2 million people were waiting for employment-based green cards, with a six-year average wait period. However, it has taken more than a decade on average for Indian IT experts, and many have yet to acquire their green cards even after 15 years.
Mr. Bhutoria praised the Biden administration for fulfilling numerous Commission recommendations in his statements before the Commission.
The Commission suggested efforts to decrease major visa appointment wait times in December of last year.
The administration has taken initiatives to enhance visa appointment processes and cut wait periods. Visa appointment wait times have been lowered to two to four weeks, allowing people to better organize their travel and immigration processes.
Furthermore, students can now apply for a student visa up to one year before their college entrance date, giving them additional flexibility and ease of transfer.
In December of last year, the Commission also proposed amending aging-out children’s green card applications, he added.
According to him, the USCIS updated the Child Age-Out Calculation Policy, which assesses the age of children in certain immigration cases, to provide better clarity and justice, as well as to ensure that eligible children continue their eligibility for immigration benefits and do not age out of the system.
“These recent immigration updates reflect the direct impact of the Commission’s recommendations as well as the Biden administration’s commitment to assisting families and developing immigration policies that are more inclusive, efficient, and responsive to the needs of our communities,” Mr. Bhutoria said.