Pending green card applications. Illustration.
Shelle Ann-Simon

Shelle Ann-Simon

Pressure on USCIS to approve 280,000 pending Green Card applications

With the close of the fiscal year approaching, pressure is being placed on USCIS to approve all pending Green Card applications to reduce backlogs and delays.

USCIS is facing a record surplus of employment-based green cards available this year. This comes after more than 66,000 permanent resident cards were lost last year due to massive delays caused by the pandemic.

This situation has generated great uncertainty for many immigrants who have pending Green Card applications. And the agency faces an even bigger workload this year than last: 280,000 permanent resident cards compared to 262,000 in the fiscal year 2021.

However, USCIS has ensured that all available visas will be issued before the end of the year. The unprecedented number of Green Cards available could mean a strong influx of new workers ready to fill labor shortages in the current crisis. And unlike temporary work visas such as H-1B, a permanent residence card allows workers to freely change employers without losing their immigration status.

Delays in Green Card applications processing times

The large number of employment-based green cards made available in the past two years is a result of the temporary closure and limited capacity of US embassies and consular offices amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Many pending green card applications that were not processed overseas by the State Department were “rolled over” the following year under the employment-based green card category, which is generally capped at 140,000 visas per year.

According to a 2021 report from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, the agency’s struggling to improve efficiency under a largely paper-based system, but these obstacles meant a massive “waiting list” of applications and long lines of biometric appointments to collect fingerprints and photographs of applicants due to the large backlog in offices that remained closed during the pandemic.

The agency is working to reduce the backlog of cases that has built up since the pandemic began, looking at ways to streamline its processes and make better use of technology to speed up decision-making. Many official sources report also that USCIS is increasing its workforce to handle the massive workload. All of these efforts are aimed at reducing the backlog of cases and getting back on track.

Pending green card applications. Illustration.

Pending Green Card applications: How long until my Green Card application is approved?

The truth is that right now it is really difficult to accurately estimate how long it will take USCIS to approve all pending Green Card applications. But it is expected that before the end of the year there should be progress in the processing and approval of the massive backlog of applications.

In any case, you can check the Visa Bulletin to see the priority dates for Green Cards. The Visa Bulletin is a monthly publication that gives detailed information on the availability of immigrant visa numbers. A “priority date” is the date that an application for permanent residence was filed.

To meet the high demand from the many Green Card applications that are still on the waiting list, USCIS has already shifted some staff resources from other immigration services to Green Card processing. Also, requests have been redistributed between field offices in such a way that workloads are more balanced.

Separately, the agency has used a “risk-based approach” to waive certain requirements commonly requested during interviews and urged applicants to prepare to submit their medical forms as soon as their applications are accepted. At the same time, it encourages others to transfer their applications from one employment-based visa category to another with lower demand where eligible, a process known as interfiling.

If you are in need of immigration legal advice, do not hesitate to contact us! At the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon we have wide experience in immigration proceedings, family law, and personal injury and have successfully defended our clients for over 10 years. Contact us through our website or give us a call at 281-606-5362!

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