The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a record number of employment-based permanent resident cards (green cards) over the previous two fiscal years. This success has relieved many employers and employees alike as labor shortages continue in many industries and backlogs have kept many workers in years-long waits. However, many have wondered if this record pace will continue into the new year.
The employment-based green card process usually begins when an employer files a labor certification application. This application tests the U.S. labor market to confirm that hiring a foreign national worker would not adversely affect domestic workers. Once approved, the employer then files an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. In some circumstances, an employer may bypass the first step if both the employer and work qualify.
However, an approved Immigrant Petition does not immediately grant the foreign national a green card. Instead, it establishes that workers may wait until their priority date becomes available to apply for a permanent resident card. Once available, they must fill out an Adjustment of Status application.
Unfortunately, U.S. law provides a limited number of permanent resident cards each year. As a result, the number of sponsored employees has greatly exceeded the available cards in recent years. This mismatched balance has resulted in a considerable backlog of applicants in some employment-based categories.
In FY 2022 and FY 2023, a record number of employment-based immigrant visas were issued, totaling 281,507 in FY 2022 and 262,288 in FY 2021. However, this pace seems unlikely to continue, as these numbers represent a substantial number of family-based visas. In this case, many visas went unused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the USCIS anticipates some spillover this fiscal year, they expect to see less than the last two years.
This change means employers can expect a longer wait time for sponsored employees to obtain a permanent resident card. As a result, employers must continue filing renewals for these workers to maintain their underlying work authorization status. It may also mean higher costs, mainly because the Department of Homeland Security has proposed a notice of rulemaking to increase fees for many applications.
Staying on top of the associated paperwork will prove necessary due to these changes and filing of employment authorization renewals. The employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) is among this paperwork, which they must update with the renewals. An electronic I-9 management tool can ensure that employers remain updated with these changes and provide secure storage for all forms and documentation.
Our I-9 Compliance tool will help quickly verify your employment eligibility automatically