indica News Bureau –
Hundreds of thousands of Indians waiting for permanent residency in the US stand to benefit if country-based quotas from Green Cards are removed says a latest US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.
Indians, who mostly come to the US on H-1B visas, wait for about 10 years on average for a green card, which increases or decreases based on the number of new applications every year, the report said.
“A handful of countries could conceivably dominate employment-based immigration, possibly benefiting certain industries that employ foreign workers from those countries, at the expense of foreign workers from other countries and other industries that might employ them,” the report said.
The Green Card confers upon various benefits and allowances such as to permanently live and work in the US. But in recent times the considerable wait-times have prompted many to question the need for such systems.
As of April 2018, there were 6,32,219 Indian immigrants and their spouses and minor children waiting for Green Cards. India has the maximum number of people waiting in line, according to reports.
Of the 60,394 Indians who received Green Cards in 2017, the maximum 23,569 were issued to the employment-based preferences like those on the H-1B visas.
Presently, the current immigration system imposes a seven percent per country quota on allotment of Green Cards or the Legal Permanent Residency (LPR).
According to the CRS report, if the cap is removed, it is expected that Indians and Chinese would dominate the flow of new employment-based Legal Permanent Residency (LPR) for as many years.
The US Immigration and Nationality Act allocates 140,000 visas annually for all five employment-based (LPR) categories. It also limits each immigrant-sending country to an annual maximum of seven percent of all employment-based LPR admissions, known as the per-country ceiling, or “cap”.
Indians constitute 78 percent of the 395,025 foreign nationals waiting for Green Cards in just one category of employment-based LPR applications. It is followed by China with 67,031 in line for Green Cards, according to the CRS report.
The report added that doing away with the per-country ceiling would reduce certain queues of prospective immigrants faster.
“Shorter wait times for LPR status might actually incentivize greater numbers of nationals from India, China, and the Philippines to seek employment-based LPR status. If that were to occur, the reduction in the number of approved petitions pending might be short-lived,” the report said.
There have been proposals to eliminate the per-country ceiling cap in recent years but none have become law.
Last year, Senator Orrin Hatch called for lifting the country cap for Green Card stating that the emphasis should be on skill not on the country cap. He had said that it was the country cap that was creating a backlog in green card issuing.
In August last year, a bill eliminating the per-country limitation on green cards for employment-based immigrants was included in the Department of Homeland Security’s Appropriations bill.
The bill, originally tabled as HR 392, or the “Fairness for High‐Skilled Immigrants Act,” had 327 co-sponsors, and was actively pushed by Immigration Voice, a national volunteer non-profit organization for high-skilled immigrants in the United States.
Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder, who introduced this bill, had in 2017 called for a removal of country-specific quota for legal permanent residency, arguing that the existing country-specific quota for green cards is unjust for people from countries like India and China.
Green card applications are decided by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but in some cases an immigration judge or a member of the Board of Immigration Appeals may grant permanent residency