A presidential advisory council in the United States has voted to shorten the green card application process, which, if enacted, will significantly reduce the time it takes for Indian candidates.
The President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (PACAANHPI) voted to cut the time it takes to get a green card from ten years to six months. These suggestions will be given to President Joe Biden, who may use an executive order to put them into effect.
It also suggests that the USCIS and the Department of State issue new public charge policies help Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander immigrant families gain access to health and well-being services, as well as collaborate with other federal agencies and the community organizations to reach out to these groups.
What Does This Mean for Green Card Wait Times?
At this stage, these are just recommendations, which will require Government action and policy changes to be effective. If all these recommendations are accepted, or even some are accepted, then Indian Green Card applicants waiting in long lines can benefit from this.
The Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee approved a set of recommendations that will now be presented to the full committee for consideration. One of these is a suggestion that family green card applications be processed more quickly internally. Because of the annual nation cap and many candidates, Indian applicants have the longest wait times.
What Types of Green Cards Will Be Affected?
The recommendations aim to cut the processing time for all forms related to family-based Green Card applications, DACA renewals, and all other Green Card applications to six months, and to issue adjudicate decisions within six months of receiving applications.
The list includes expanding premium processing services, providing automatic work permit renewals, quickly processing work permits as well as other immigration applications, and reducing the visa backlog by increasing the workforce and modernizing processes at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to reduce long waiting times.
How Will This Faster Process Be Achieved?
The commission proposed that the National Visa Center (NVC) State Department facility hire more officials to expand their capability to process Green Card application interviews by 100% in three months starting August 2022. They also asked that the USCIS review and reach a decision on requirements for work permits, travel documents, and temporary status extensions or changes within three months to make it easier for immigrants to stay and work in the country.
By April 2023, the number of Green Card application visa interviews and decisions will also have increased by 150 per cent.
What is a Green Card?
A green card enables a non-US citizen to live in the United States permanently. Many people from outside the United States would like a green card because it allows them to live and work (legally) anywhere in the country for three or five years before becoming eligible for citizenship.
People can apply for a Green Card in a variety of ways under US immigration laws. The requirements for eligibility may differ depending on the immigrant category for which you are applying.
Green Card Backlogs
Only 65,452 family preference green cards were issued out of 226,000 available in 2021, leaving hundreds of thousands of green cards unused, resulting in family separation. In April, there were 421,358 pending interviews, down from 436,700 in March.
The current immigration system, which imposes a 7% per country quota on allotment of the coveted Green Card or permanent legal residency, is causing havoc on Indian IT professionals, the majority of whom are highly skilled and come to the US primarily on H-1B work visas.
Even though many people are already qualified to immigrate, the extraordinary wait time for a Green Card causes significant hardship for American families who are made to wait decades to reunite with their dear ones.