70% Indians in US green card line seeking permanent residency elsewhere: study

America stands to lose anywhere from $19.3 billion to $54.26 billion due to green card backlog.

A new research paper on green card and Indian immigrants puts the potential economic loss to American organizations due to the green card backlog in the range of 19.3 and 54.26 billion dollars.

  • 70 percent of green card backlog population is seriously contemplating emigrating to a more visa friendly country
  • 30 percent of the green card backlog population in America has already applied for permanent residency in another country
  • 9  percent of the participants have already obtained a permanent residency in a more visa-friendly country
  • 93.4 percent of participants are very concerned about the estimated green card waiting time in the US.

These are just some of the findings of a report on Green Card and Indian immigrants in America. Titled “An indentured servant,” the report explores the impact of the green card waiting time on the life of a highly skilled Indian immigrant in the US.

Prepared by Pooja Vijaykumar and Christopher J. L. Cunningham, the report is now included in the University of Tennessee (UTC) Industrial and Organizational Psychology Translational Research.

READ MORE: The American Bazaar’s H-1B archive

Vijaykumar, a researcher at the University of Limerick, Ireland and Cunningham a professor at University of Tennessee spoke to 1042 participants for the purpose of this study. Majority of the US participants have lived in America for more than ten years and are on an H-1B visa.

The report highlights not just the hardships of a group of immigrants caught in America’s immigration system but also gives some staggering economic repercussions.

Based on these turnover intentions, the researchers estimate, the potential direct costs to American organizations due to the green card waiting time will be in the range of 19.3 to 54.26 billion dollars.

The report also highlights that the current waiting time for a green card is 151 years in the EB-2 (Advanced degree) category.

ALSO READ: The newly passed H.R.1044 raises caps for family-based green cards (July 10, 2019)

Speaking to the American Bazaar from Ireland, Vijaykumar says, “We found the current delays in visa processing is causing financial burden, career roadblocks such as job insecurity, wage stagnation, lack of promotion opportunities, inability to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities and is negatively impacting respondents’ business and personal travel opportunities, even to return to family in India in case of emergencies.”

“These issues are in turn causing heath issues such as stress, fear of unknown, frustration and chronic health issues,” she said. “The findings of this study are important because these issues may contribute to burnout, low performance, lack of innovation and organizational commitment in high skilled immigrants such engineers and doctors resulting in high turnover.”

The report stresses that the emigration of skilled immigrants to other countries causes brain drain and loss of talent. The report also explains in detail the humungous sounding economic loss to US as a result of green card backlog.

ALSO READ: Indian national stuck in Green Card limbo forced to return after her husband’s death (October 21, 2019)

Currently, there are 306,400 working Indian immigrants in the US waiting for their green card; 70 percent of this population is 214,480 (CATO Institute, 2018), according to the report.

Noting the minimum median salary for H-1B workers of $60,000 is set as a requirement per law (US Department of Labor, n. d., “Overview”), the report says, “We can also consider the median salary range for all occupations in which Indian immigrants are working to be $60,000 – $158,120.”

“Without factoring in additional costs associated with replacement, retraining, and lost productivity, and using this range of median salaries, the potential one-year value lost if 214,480 of the present Indian immigrants in the US were to act on the intentions observed in this study and actually leave the US over its current immigration challenges would be between $12,868,800,000 and $33,913,577,600,” it says.

READ MORE: In Focus: H4 visa

“The total direct replacement cost for these workers (estimated at 50-60 percent of an employee’s annual salary) would potentially be in the range of $6,434,400,000 to $20,348,146,560. Combined, the total direct turnover cost to organization in the US is estimated to be in the range $19,303,200,000 – $54,261,724,160.”

On why they think it was important to bring out the truth about the green card backlog to the Americans, Vijaykumar says, “We hope that the present findings may be useful to American policy makers and organizational leaders as further decisions are made regarding the American immigration system.”


Supporters of bill to remove green card country limit pressure Senator Durbin (December 4, 2019)

Why Indian doctors are hit hardest by US Green Card backlog? (January 24, 2020)

Every week green card backlog law is delayed more people may be dying in line: Sunayana Dumala (November 19, 2019)

How Netra Chavan channeled her own frustrations to build an H4 and H-1B visa support system (February 14, 2019)

RHC’s H-1B rally demands elimination of Green Card backlog, protection for ‘DALCA’ children (February 10, 2019)

Trump talks about changes in H-1B Visa, including a possible citizenship (January 11, 2019)

Trump’s tweet on H-1B and path to citizenship evokes lukewarm response (January 12, 2019)

Waiting for the Wait to End: The human face of Indian immigrants caught in the Green Card backlog (December 4, 2018)

H-4 and H-1: Time for Indian immigrants to speak up on immigration policy, says author Amy Bhatt (January 5, 2019)

The unstable life of Indians on H-1B visa in the US due to visa renewal policy (October 28, 2016)

High-skilled Indian workers, DALCA kids, rally on Capitol Hill to clear green card backlog (June 15, 2018)

Reverse brain drain – the experience of three couples who moved back to India from the US (January 20, 2014)


  1. Vince Civiletto

    Good riddance. Get out NOW!! No one wants indian scum in the US, too many have snuck in already and polluted the place like there’s no tomorrow. Sick bunch of people, always scheming, screwing others, and try to get ahead at all costs. Simply put, Indians are abhorrent and not welcome in any developed nation.

  2. With all due respect to Liz and JJ, I have two points:
    1] to say the least, their answers are over simplistic…bordering naive,
    2]whatever this richest economy in the world–so far–has achieved, a major portion of it is due to the hard-working immigrants from all over the world

  3. I have noticed the H-1B visa program is listed under “temporary nonimmigration workers” on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services/Homeland Security website. So, why are temporary, non- immigration workers involved in a psychology study about a clearly defined work arrangement that will end? It is not a surprise that the jobs listed are not long-lasting.
    Of course those with this visa would have to consider leaving the US when their visa is not extended.
    Or is this not what these workers are led to believe? What are the companies that use these programs telling their temporary employees?

  4. If all foreigners waiting for a green card left the USA it would be good for the economy. The extra cost of replacement would act as a Keynesian stimulus to the economy. The improved wages would attract additional people to acquire the skills needed. Let the free market fix any skill shortage that might exist. American wage earners did better before the explosion of foreigners and will work better if they leave.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.