The green card wait time for Indian candidates is probably going to stay long, with 369,322 candidates having approved employment visa petitions awaiting visa availability, as per recent data from the US immigration agency.
Every one of these is candidates under the EB2 and EB3 (for professionals and skilled workers) categories, used by technology companies to sponsor visas for immigrant workers. A green card, or permanent residence, an option is available on these visas.
“This only tells you how many people are waiting for their visa numbers to get a green card. They have not given the number of family members that are attached to these essential candidates. And this is important because visas granted to family members are also counted towards the per-country maximum allowed each year. So, we are looking at several decades of wait time,” said Poorvi managing partner at LawQuest, a global immigration law firm.
Green card wait time is likely to remain high for Indians
These candidates have an approved Form 1-140 which is the first step toward an employment-based green card. “After an I-140 is approved, employment-based candidates who are Indian-born usually have to wait several years for their need dates to become current. After the dates become current, the final step of the green card. The issuance of the immigrant visa can further take several years. Due to the USCIS processing delays,” said Rajiv S Khanna, managing partner at immigration.com.
According to information delivered by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Indians filed the highest number of I-140 petitions in the initial two quarters of fiscal 2022 (October 2021-March 2022), per the trends over the last several years. The agency got 37,719 applications in six months. In the same period, 25,274 applications were approved, including some filed earlier. This doesn’t imply that they have been given green cards.
The US agency has sped up the processing of employment-based green cards this year. Getting rid of in-person interviews for a few of the candidates. “Interviewing all employment-based applicants was a practice implemented by the Trump government. Also, that adds several years to green card processing. Historically, employment-based green card candidates within the US rarely needed to go through personal interviews,” said Khanna. Last fiscal year, almost 80,000 green cards went unused because of processing delays. Which the immigration agency is trying to avoid this year.