Presidential Advisory Panel Approves Measures to Reduce Green Card Backlog

On June 8, President Joe Biden’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders approved two key measures that may help reduce the sizable Green Card backlog currently facing many applicants.

Known as “Recapture Unused Green Cards and Prevent Future Green Card Waste,” the measures were proposed by Indian American entrepreneur Ajay Bhutoria, who is a member of the advisory commission.

Bhutoria proposed two different measures. The first would direct the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to recapture unused family-based and employment-based Green Cards from 1992-2025, including more than 230,000 unused employment-based Green Cards from 1992-2022. A portion of these would be processed each fiscal year in addition to the number of Green Cards normally allowed for the employment-based category. This could effectively create additional Green Card slots each fiscal year.

According to Bhutoria, recapturing unused Green Cards could add billions to the US economy, and help reduce the backlog for families awaiting Green Cards, which has grown by over 100% over the past 20 years.

The second measure proposes that the US State Department change its policy to confirm that all eligible Green Cards for a fiscal year remain available for eligible immigrants even if they are unable to be processed during that same fiscal year, hopefully expediting the process at least somewhat.

Currently, the average wait time for an employment-based Green Card is six years. However, as many H1B workers can attest, the wait can be much longer than this, averaging a decade or more for some Indian professionals. It is hopeful that these measures, if implemented, will help clear the backlogs for Green Card applicants and make it a much more expedient process.

“These recent immigration updates reflect the direct impact of the … Commission’s recommendations and the commitment of the Biden administration to help families and create immigration policies that are more inclusive, efficient and responsive to the needs of our communities,” said Bhutoria during his remarks.

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