The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) expect to have processed more employment-based green cards last fiscal year than they had in the program’s history. The thousands of highly educated foreign citizens who obtained a green card this year had years removed from their wait time. The additional workers were also helpful for many companies suffering from labor shortages.
However, the USCIS cannot continue issuing this amount of green cards without help from Congress. In response, there is legislation in Congress that would exempt graduates from American Universities with advanced degrees in STEM fields from the usual annual limits on the number of green cards issued. However, it remains uncertain whether Congress will pass it.
There was a considerably higher number of employment-based green card slots available the last fiscal year due to immigration law. In addition, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic further increased the available slots.
In a typical year, a cap of 140,000 for employment-based green cards is due to a congressionally mandated limit. A significant waitlist has accrued over time, especially for citizens of India, because of this limit and the per-country visa caps.
However, the USCIS had 281,507 employment-based green cards last fiscal year. Extra green cards were available due to the allocation process between employment-based and family-based green cards. If any family-based green cards remain at the end of the fiscal year, the cards move to the cap for employment-based green cards for the following fiscal year. In contrast, if any employment-based green cards remain, they expire.
The processing of family-based green cards declined because many State Department consular offices closed during the pandemic. However, these closures meant there were more employment-based green cards made available.
Before this fiscal year, USCIS did not process many available employment-based green cards. As a result, all unprocessed cards expired—this upset many immigrants who had waited years for a green card.
The USCIS projected to use all the extra employment-based green cards this year. However, there is still a backlog of over one million immigrants waiting for green cards, and it will likely require action from Congress to significantly improve the backlog. Unfortunately, it could be difficult for Congress to agree on any legislation. However, if Congress passes the legislation, it will help businesses and immigrants.
For employers that hire immigrants, it will be necessary to complete Form I-9. This process often proves complicated due to frequently changing regulations. The best way to ensure correctly filled forms is by using an electronic I-9 management tool. This tool can guide employers through every step of the process and securely and conveniently store the documents.
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