Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has said that if he is elected, he will work to remove the green card backlog during his first 100 days in office.
At a live-streamed Presidential Town Hall June 27 on issues of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, he said the focus would be on streamlining the naturalization process to make it easier for qualified green card holders to move through the backlog.
Such a move would benefit hundreds of thousands of Indians waiting for permanent residency in the US, who have become victims of the backlog.
The current immigration system imposes a 7 percent per country quota on allotment of green cards or Legal Permanent Residency.
India has the maximum number of people waiting in the green card line, according to reports.
According to a US Congressional Research Service report published January in 2019, as of April 2018 there were 6,32,219 Indian immigrants, their spouses and minor children waiting for green cards.
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.
Biden’s promise “is huge for thousands of H1B workers whose lives are uncertain due to the pending green card processes. Trump has caused further delay. Biden will reduce the backlog,” said Ajay Bhutoria, a tech entrepreneur.
Bhutoria serves on the national finance committee of Biden for President 2020 and is part of the Asian-American Pacific Islander national leadership council for Biden for President.
“Yes, Biden will increase the number of visas offered for permanent, work-based immigration based on macroeconomic conditions and exempt from any cap recent graduates of PhD programs in STEM fields,” Bhutoria iterated.
He said Biden would support first reforming the temporary visa system for high-skill, specialty workers to protect wages, then expanding the number of visas offered.
Biden, Bhutoria said, would restore and defend the naturalization process for green card holders.
At a virtual fundraiser held July 1, Biden was asked whether India was critical to US national security. Biden said that India and the US are “natural partners”.
“That partnership, a strategic partnership, is necessary and important in our security,” he said. “In our administration, I was proud to play a role more than a decade ago in securing congressional approval for the US-India civil nuclear agreement, which is a big deal. Helping open the door to great progress in our relationship and strengthening our strategic partnership with India was a high priority in the Obama-Biden administration and will be a high priority if I’m elected President.”
Biden’s earlier expression of disappointment over India amending its citizenship laws and implementing anti-foreigner laws in Assam was not received well among the Indian-America community.
“India needs to be a partner in the region for our safety sake and quite frankly, for theirs,” Biden said July 1.
He said as President he would end workplace raids and protect other sensitive locations from immigration enforcement actions. He also promised to work with Congress to establish a minimum admissions number of 95,000 refugees annually.
Biden’s campaign has several Indian Americans in prominent roles — including the recent hire of Medha Raj as digital chief of staff, Amit Jani as national AAPI director for the campaign, and Gautam Raghavan in the transition team, to name a few.