USCIS Struggles to Issue the 280,000 Available Green Cards This Year


A record number of employment-based green cards are available this year, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is trying to issue all available visas before the end of the fiscal year. Unfortunately, many visas went to waste last year because of delays caused by the pandemic.

Over 66,000 employment-based green cards went to waste as the USCIS worked through the huge backlogs caused by the pandemic and many petitions filed for work visas.

The USCIS has even more work this year. It has 280,000 green cards available, whereas last year, it had 262,000. However, the agency has stated that it is prepared to issue the available visas before September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

A large number of available work-based green cards could be beneficial for employers during the current labor shortage. Green cards are also often better for employees than temporary work visas, allowing them to change jobs without losing their immigration status. In addition, the available green cards would be especially beneficial for Chinese and Indian workers who often spend years in backlogs due to per-country visa caps.

Despite the USCIS’s claims of preparation to issue all available green cards, there is no publicly available evidence proving their efforts. As it stands, the USCIS has not issued visas at a faster pace than last year. This lack of improvement has caused concern about their ability to process all available green cards.

In response to these concerns, an agency spokesman voiced the USCIS’s progress, claiming considerable improvement by mid-June this year compared to last by issuing twice as many visas per week. However, the agency did not offer data supporting the claims of approved green cards thus far.

Instead, the agency explained how USCIS had taken resources from other services to process green cards. They are also trying to spread the work by redistributing applications to their various field offices.

Additionally, the agency waives some interview requirements using a risk-based approach. They have also encouraged some applicants to transfer their applications from their current employment-based visa category to another with less demand if they are eligible.

However, the USCIS still has challenges that could make it difficult to issue all available visas by the end of the fiscal year. Despite hiring many people, it still has many staff vacancies, as the new employees still require training and may not be ready to help process the visas. Also, issuing all available visas will still leave a substantial backlog to work. This lingering backlog means many workers who would otherwise help mitigate the labor shortages must continue waiting. It remains to be seen how the USCIS will effectively deal with the problem.

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