The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services hopes to give out all leftover employment-based green cards this year to prevent them from going to waste, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).
The numbers: The U.S. usually gives out 140,000 cards for the fiscal year, but during the pandemic, about twice as many green cards became available. However, short-staffed agencies and slowed responses meant that 68,000 green cards were left unused last year.
The problem: Green cards have been going to waste partly because most applicants lived abroad when they applied, and the pandemic caused U.S. consulates to delay green card appointments.
- The backlog of around 1.4 million applicants resulted in the immigration agency processing the most accessible applications first—a decision that means many people will continue to wait for approval.
The push: Immigration advocacy groups have petitioned the government to keep the cards open for applicants. Meanwhile, organizations like the NAM have been vocal about the importance of employment-based green cards in the manufacturing industry and have pressed for a more efficient, effective process.
What we’re saying: In July, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons pressed DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas about the need to reduce the visa backlog to ensure the industry can get the workers it needs.
- “Addressing the green card backlog and providing green cards to hardworking and talented immigrants in the manufacturing workforce is an important step to address the current workforce crisis and support a stronger economy,” said Timmons.
- “With the workforce crisis contributing to inflationary pressures and economic uncertainty, we truly cannot afford to let more green cards go to waste and leave talented individuals who contribute to our economy on the sidelines.”