Each year, the US immigration system allocates approximately 140,000 employment-based green cards that are distributed to applicants based on country of birth and other criteria. Despite the high demand for these green cards, the government often fails to issue all of the available green cards in a fiscal year. This failure is devastating because the unused green cards are “lost” and do not roll over into the next fiscal year. That means many, especially Indian and Chinese applicants, must wait many years longer to get their green cards. In fact, a recent study determined that an Indian or Chinese employment-based green card applicant could potentially wait 54 years before they receive their green cards. This year, it’s estimated that the government would end the current fiscal year with about 100,000 green-card numbers still unused. And any green cards that aren’t granted by the end of September will expire.
In a recent lawsuit filed in federal court, 125 Indian and Chinese nationals alleged that the government’s failure to timely approve their permanent residency applications this year would result in the loss of thousands of “rollover” employment-based visas. They ask the court to compel the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to adjudicate their applications without further delay by the end of FY2021, which is September 30, 2021, or to order USCIS to rollover any unused visa numbers to the next year, starting October 1, 2021. The plaintiffs also challenge the way USCIS allocates visa numbers as unlawful.
In the complaint, the plaintiffs complain that the USCIS’ lengthy processing delays are causing them substantial harm. It remains to be seen if the federal court will agree with the plaintiffs and force the USCIS to expedite the green card applications of these 125 plaintiffs. It’s also possible that the USCIS will settle the lawsuit and approve these applicants before a judge actually decides the case..
This case makes clear that the government including Congress must address this serious dilemma which affects so many immigrants who have applied for lawful immigration.
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