Monday, June 17, 2024

Green card backlog creating hardships for skilled workers: Congressman Shri Thanedar

The long Green Card backlog is creating hardships for skilled workers, including Indians, at a time when American businesses need more immigrants, Indian-American Congressman Shri Thanedar has said.

The US representative from Michigan’s 13th Congressional district said he is working on several bills to clear wait times for Green Card, which allows an immigrant to live and work permanently in the US.

“I am not just a Congressman, I am an immigrant. I came to this country when I was 24 years old with nothing but my American dream. I got an education, worked hard, became an entrepreneur, created hundreds of jobs,” Thanedar said in a Twitter post on Thursday.

“Today, American businesses need these skilled immigrants. Yet, the long Green Card backlog is creating hardship on people, on scientists, on skilled workers and their families,” he said.

According to Thanedar, the US currently has a broken immigration system that needs to be fixed.

“I am working on several bills to clear the Green Card backlog. We need to make this easier on immigrants. They will help create American jobs and it will help increase and grow American economy.”

Foreign-born workers make up 17 per cent of the workforce and undocumented workers comprise approximately 4.4 per cent, according to estimates.

Thanedar, along with a group of 100 democrats introduced a new bill in May seeking to eliminate the country-quota for Green Cards and reform the most-coveted H-1B visa program.

The US Citizenship Act 2023 creates an earned roadmap to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, providing Dreamers, TPS (Temporary Protected Status) holders, and some farmworkers with an immediate path to citizenship.

How the backlog forms

Annually, the US sets aside only 1.40 lakh green cards for employment-based applicants and there is a 7 per cent per country cap on these Permanent Resident Cards.

The per country caps are numerical limits on the issuance of Green Cards to individuals from certain countries.

A backlog forms if the number of individuals being sponsored from a single country is greater than 7 per cent of the annual available total.

As a consequence, excess approved petitions are not considered until a visa becomes available and the individual’s petition falls within the initial 7 per cent per-country cap.

Indians in waiting

According to a recent Cato Institute study, the employment based Green Card backlog for skilled Indians had reached 7.19 lakh in September 2021, with an expected wait time of 90 years.

More than 2 lakh Indians who are mired in this backlog are likely to die before they can conceivably receive a Green Card (absent a change in the law), the study said.

The number of employment-based Green Cards issued to people from India is roughly around 7,000-8,000 per year.

Fresh numbers

According to the US Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC), number of Green Card applicants whose cases were documentarily complete and ready to be scheduled for an interview decreased slightly, from 409,021 in February to 396,877 in April — a decrease of only roughly 3 per cent.

Despite the minimal decrease in case counts, the number of people scheduled for Green Card interviews saw a small increase.

The NVC scheduled 41,904 interviews in April, compared to 38,896 interviews in February.

On March, another Indian-American Congressman, Raja Krishnamoorthi introduced the Eliminating Backlogs Act of 2023 to remove Green Card backlogs.

The bill gives greater flexibility to use existing allotted work visas that employers desperately need, and ensures that the country is properly utilising the employment-based visas allocated each year under existing immigration law.

(Meenakshi Iyer can be reached at meenakshi.i@ians.in)

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