Apple’s Tim Cook flags concern about green cards going waste

Green card backlogs have created uncertainty for major employers and caused anxiety among employees & families’

Apple CEO Tim Cook has added his voice to corporate America’s concern over delay in processing of employment-based green cards making it difficult for companies to fill critical talent gaps.

In a Sept. 17 letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, he has spoken about “the importance of the Administration taking immediate action to prevent employment-based green cards from going unused this fiscal year.”

“The backlogs have created uncertainty for major employers and caused anxiety for our employees and their families who have, in some cases, waited decades to receive permanent residence status,” wrote Cook, who is also Chair, Immigration Committee, Business Roundtable.

“The system is already plagued by backlogs that have left foreign-born professionals waiting in limbo and companies unable to fill critical talent gaps,” he wrote.

Read: Rep Kathy Manning urges USCIS to stop green card wastage (September 10, 2021)

“We now understand that pandemic-related processing delays, plus the addition of 120,000 green cards this year, have created a situation where the full 260,000 available green cards will likely not be used before the September 30, 2021, deadline,” Cook noted.

“We believe the time to act is now,” he wrote asking the government to “eliminate all unnecessary document and evidentiary requests” and conduct all communications via email or phone to avoid delays.

“We also encourage the agency (USCIS) to explore every legal avenue to preserve or recapture visa numbers that expire,” Cook wrote.

With the 2021 fiscal year fast-coming to a close, Cook urged Mayorkas “to take action to address the backlogs and ensure these much-needed employment-based green cards do not go to waste.”

With almost 100,000 green cards likely to go unused, thousands of Indians in the US who were expecting to move up the green card waitlist due to the extra green cards on offer this year, are likely to be adversely impacted.

Technology giants Google and Microsoft, who have emerged as the top sponsors of green cards for their employees, have also urged US officials to find a way to ensure that the green cards quota for the year was not wasted, according to technology publication Axios.

According to USCIS data about 67% of applications in the first three quarters of this fiscal were for H-1B visa holders, and over 50% of the applicants were from India.

Cook has previously voiced support for passing the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, which aimed to do away with country quotas for employment-linked green cards.

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