The green card backlog refers to the applicants who have to wait because of the limited number of green cards. Countries that are usually impacted by backlogs are India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines.

For nationals from large migrant-sending countries, such as India and China, the numerical limit and per-country ceiling has created long waits for employment-based green cards.

New prospective immigrants entering the backlog outnumber available green cards by more than two to one. For Indians, this backlog means that some prospective immigrants will have to wait decades to receive a green card, and many of them already reside in the United States.

How does the backlog rise?

Immigrants who want to obtain an employment-based green card have to go through specific steps. These include:

  • To submit a petition (usually, the employer will do this on their behalf)
  • To apply for a green card if the petition gets approved.

There are five categories based on the priority that immigrants are offered for green cards. As such, different categories will have their annual caps.

  • EB-1 – includes priority workers (athletes, scientists, businessmen, artists, or professors acclaimed internationally and multinational executives. Include unused EB-4 and EB-5 green cards are also included.
  • EB-2 – includes professionals (jobs that require an advanced degree or higher). This category also includes workers who have expertise above the ordinary in their field and unused EB-1 green cards.
  • EB-3 – for skilled workers (having at least two years of experience and being offered a job that requires a bachelor’s degree). Includes unused EB-2 green cards.
  • EB-4 – for special immigrants (broadcasters, religious workers, the U.S. military and government employees, and abandoned juveniles).
  • EB-5 – for foreign investors with investments in a new U.S. commercial enterprise, and between $500,000 and $1.8 million.

Each category has a limited number of visas that can be granted each year, and as you can see, the unused number of visas spillover through other categories.

If there isn’t enough cap space and your petition has been approved, you will enter the backlog and be waiting to apply for a green card, not to have your petition processed. When cap numbers become available, you will apply for your green card.

So, is this the only reason that made the dates for EB2 India and EB3 India for Green Card not moving, and the number of issued Green Cards for EB2 India came from 23,000 to 3,000 in just three years? Well. not really.

One aspect that also impacts the green card backlog is that apart from prospective immigrants, their families (spouses and minor children) are usually eligible for green cards. They make up most of the employment-based backlog.

Another important consideration is that green cards are also limited to 7% of green cards, depending on the applicants’ birth country. This is especially important for countries such as India and China and other countries with many applicants to pass the available green card numbers. The backlog for Indians increased by almost 150,00 from April 2018 to November 2019.

There are about 1 million foreign workers and their family members who are waiting to receive a green card. According to Congressional Research Service, this employment-based backlog is projected to double by the 2030 fiscal year. As a consequence of the limited number of available visas and the number of people applying each year, many skilled immigrant workers are left behind.

With trends and big jump notices in October and November’s Visa Bulletin published by USCIS, there are possibilities to downgrade your EB-2 to EB-3. To keep up with trends, and increase your chances of obtaining a green card, make sure to seek legal help from an experienced attorney.

The process can be harsh and long so having a lawyer who can deal with any difficulties and make concerns clear can save you a lot of headaches and time to devote yourself to your family and career.

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