5 March 2024

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Green Cards

United States will retrieve nearly 2 lakh unused Green Cards from 1992

A US President’s advisory council has approved the request that more than 2,30,000 unclaimed green cards for family and job categories since 1992 be recovered, which might aid thousands of Indian Americans waiting for their Green Cards.

A Green Card, also known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued to immigrants to the United States as proof that the bearer has been granted the right to reside permanently.

This includes recapturing more than 2,30,000 unused employment-based green cards from 1992 to 2022 and processing a portion of these every fiscal year, in addition to the annual limit of 1,40,000 for this category, according to Indian-American entrepreneur Ajay Bhutoria, a member of President Biden’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, in a set of recommendations presented to the commission on Thursday.

“Recapture Unused Green Cards and Prevent Future Green Card Waste” intends to overcome bureaucratic delays in the Green Card application process and bring relief to persons stuck in backlogs, according to him.

The President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders has agreed to reinstate all unused green cards for family and work categories issued since 1992.

Congress has approved the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to award a certain number of family-based and employment-based immigrant visas each year.

However, bureaucratic delays have resulted in the under-utilization of available green cards, accumulating unused green cards over time, he continued.

Bhutoria presented two major solutions to address this

First, unused green cards for family and job categories from 1992 through 2025 should be recovered by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State. 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 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 available to eligible immigrants even if the agencies are unable to execute the necessary documentation throughout the fiscal year. He believes that this policy should be enforced retroactively to reclaim unused green cards before the new policy takes effect.

Green Cards

According to Bhutoria, his recommendation highlights the harmful impact of unused green cards on individuals, families, and the US economy.

According to Bhutoria, the unclaimed green cards represent wasted chances for the country and lead to rising backlogs, disproportionately hurting Indian-American, Filipino-American, and Chinese-American families.

Furthermore, the lack of a Green Card limits the mobility and contributions of temporary workers on H-1B visas to the US economy. Children of these temporary employees face losing their immigration status when they reach the age of 21, he says.

He stated that his recommendation is consistent with recommendations presented in the 117th Congress to reissue green cards that were previously denied by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) owing to administrative errors.

He suggested that by recapturing these useless green cards, billions of dollars could be added to the economy, the backlog for families waiting for green cards could be decreased, and superfluous bureaucratic barriers to legal immigration might be removed.

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.

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Green Cards In United State

As of 2020, there were around 4.2 million people waiting for family-sponsored green card, with a six-year average wait time.

There were approximately 1.2 million people waiting for employment-based green cards, with a six-year average wait time. However, it takes more than a decade for Indian IT workers on average, and many are still waiting for their Green Card after 15 years.

In his statements before the commission, Bhutoria praised the Biden administration for putting numerous commission recommendations into action.

The commission proposed efforts to reduce major visa appointment wait times in December of last year.

The administration has taken initiatives to improve visa appointment processes and cut wait periods. Visa appointment delays have been reduced to two to four weeks, allowing people to better organise 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, he said.

In December of last year, the commission also proposed adjusting the ageing out of children on their parents’ Green Card applications, he said.

According to him, the USCIS changed the Child Age-Out Calculation Policy, which determines the age of children in certain immigration cases, to provide better clarity and fairness, ensuring 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 and the Biden administration’s commitment to help families and create immigration policies that are more inclusive, efficient, and responsive to the needs of our communities,” said Bhutoria.