Immigration agency issues double the normal number to clear massive backlog
In a massive effort to clear green card backlog, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is set to issue over 280,000 green cards, double the normal annual number, by the end of current fiscal year on Sep 30.
The immigration agency has filed a court declaration indicating that it has used nearly all available employment-based immigrant visas or green cards for the current fiscal. This is in contrast to 2021 when more than 65,000 employment-based green cards went unused.
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The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has commended the massive effort by USCIS and the State Department to clear the green card backlog as reflected in the October Visa Bulletin released by the agency.
It has also stressed the need for Congress to support the important work of both agencies through appropriations to ensure that they are equipped to quickly and efficiently process all those individuals who remain in the employment, family, and diversity immigrant visa backlogs.
However, the October visa bulletin brought some disappointment for Indians. For them in the EB-2 category (those having advanced degrees) there is a retrogression of two-and-a-half years to April 1, 2012.
The monthly visa bulletin indicates when a foreign national living in the US can take the final step of filing an adjustment of status and obtain a green card.
AILA President Jeremy McKinney stated, “Issuing 280,000+ employment-based immigrant visas is quite a feat, something that was only possible because of staff and leadership working overtime to process applications efficiently.”
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“This is double the number of visas normally issued in a year and truly a remarkable effort by agencies that have faced many hurdles in years past,” he noted.
Updated FAQs and other outreach to the public, McKinney noted “strengthened a sense of certainty for many employment-based immigrants, their families, and counsel across the country during a very tumultuous time.”
AILA Director of Government Relations Sharvari Dalal-Dheini added, “What this tremendous effort has also shown is that Congress needs to support the important work of both agencies through appropriations.”
“Usually, USCIS and DOS work is fee-based, but given the huge backlog engendered during the previous administration, and by the impact of pandemic restrictions, Congress needs to keep the purse strings open to ensure that the agencies are equipped to quickly and efficiently process all those individuals who remain in the employment, family, and diversity immigrant visa backlogs,” she said.
Read: USCIS racing to issue 280,000 Green Cards before Sep 30 (July 18, 2022)
“Doing so will only better our country’s recovery from the pandemic,” Dalal-Dheini said noting, “Despite the herculean effort, we must recognize that many individuals who had hoped to get their immigrant visas this year are now faced with visa retrogression and others, particularly those in the family backlog, have seen delays get even worse.
“As such, we must continue to push Congress to reform the immigrant visa system to ensure visas are not lost, children do not age out, our country’s employment needs are met, and we can keep families together,” she said.