A presidential advisory commission has made certain recommendations, through unanimous voting, for the Biden administration to clear the existing green card backlog within 6 months. If the recommendations, if adopted through an executive order to reduce the green card wait times to six months, will be the best boon that hundreds of thousands of Indians have been waiting for decades.
The President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (PACAANHPI) will soon send the recommendations to the White House for approval. The PACAANHPI meeting saw one of the proposals regarding the need to reduce the green card processing time moved by Ajay Jain Bhutoria, a noted Indian American community leader.
One of the recommendations made by the Presidential Advisory Commission is to speed up the processing of family based green card applications by streamlining the internal process within 6 months once President Biden approves and implements the recommendations through an executive order. The National Visa Center (NVC) is recommended to accelerate the hiring of additional officers and overhaul the operational capacity in order for green card interviews to be held by 100% in 3 months starting from August 2022.
Some of the recommendations are those for the US Citizenship and Immigration Services to upgrade the systems, revise the policies, automate manual approvals, update the dashboards, remove redundant phases, correct the internal time cycle and review the policies, so that the existing green card logjam can be reduced by more than half of it. Only 65,452 – one fourth of the annual 2,26,000 green cards available in the family-based category, were issued in fiscal 2021. If the recommendations are adopted, the permanent waste of family-based green cards can be prevented to keep immigrant families united.
Once the backlog is cleared, the processing timeline for fresh green card applications should not exceed 6 months. It will do good to more than 8 lakh Indian immigrants who hopefully won’t meet the fate of this eminent Indian doctor who left USA for India after 15 years of disappointment over the green card fiasco.
There are other recommendations that require the USCIS to review requests for scrutiny of work permits, travel documents, and visa status extensions or changes within 3 months, so that non-citizen immigrants find it easier to continue to stay and work in the United States. Providing automatic work permit renewals to H4 visa holders and expanding the premium processing service to other visa categories in addition to H1B are among other recommendations by the advisory commission.
Early this month, the USCIS increased the automatic extension of work permits for non-citizen immigrants, including spouses of H1B visa holders. If it has been 180 days since your work permit expired, you can continue to be working for additional 12 months. The 540-day extension of work permits came into effect on May 4, 2022. This not only provides a relief to those whose employment authorization renewal applications are facing delays due to a huge backlog, but also saves employers from facing a talent crunch.
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