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Biden Administration Urged to Make Priority Dates Current for Green Card Applications

A bipartisan group of more than 50 lawmakers is putting pressure on the Biden administration to allow thousands of applicants stuck in green card backlogs to apply for permanent residency much sooner than they otherwise would be able to.

All available green cards would be used each year if all immigrants with authorized employment-based immigration petitions could submit their applications as soon as the next fiscal year began.

Although an earlier application date wouldn’t necessarily mean that individuals secure permanent residency sooner, it would allow those immigrants to get interim relief like greater flexibility for employment and travel outside the US while they wait for their green cards.

The economy is held back by bureaucratic delays in the legal immigration system, and many families are left in limbo. The Biden Administration can lessen this burden while boosting our economy and assisting in job creation by acting within its legal jurisdiction.

Employment-based green cards are capped at 140,000 slots each year—not including additional visas that become available because of family-based visas that go unused in the previous year. Additional caps limit the share of green cards allocated by country of origin. As a result, immigrants from high-volume countries like India would still face significant wait times even if the Biden administration adopted the change the lawmakers are calling for.

The State Department notifies immigrants of their eligibility to apply for a green card through a monthly publication known as the Visa Bulletin. The agency, along with the Homeland Security Department, determines eligibility dates based on the date an immigrant petition was filed and a projection of available visas.

Making all employment-based visas “current” on the monthly bulletin beginning Oct. 1—the start of the fiscal year—would allow any immigrant to apply for permanent residency regardless of their place in line and assure that no green cards go to waste. More than 194,000 employment-based green cards have not been utilized during the previous 20 years due to things like administrative delays.

There is no disadvantage to permitting as many immigrants as feasible to apply for a green card in order to use as many as possible. Without this administrative action, which was also used during the administration of President George W Bush, individuals are left in a constant state of limbo, but is made aware that flexible interpretation of Visa availability has been adopted before.

Even if the timeframe for obtaining a green card remained the same,  immigrants would still benefit from being permitted to apply in a number of ways. Immigrants are permitted to change jobs after their application has been pending for 180 days without having to go through some of the sponsorship stages again with a new employer. And applicants could leave the US and return without having to secure a new visa stamp at consular offices abroad—a process that can take months depending on wait times for appointments.

By submitting a green card application, dependant children of visa holders will not lose their status when they reach 21. In February, the Biden administration announced that it would “freeze” a dependent child’s age according to the date a parent filed for permanent residency; before, DHS used the date a visa was formally considered available.

The Department of Homeland Security replies to members of Congress via authorized routes, according to a spokeswoman.

A spokesman for the State Department stated that the organization typically does not comment on discussions with Congressmen. According to the spokeswoman, there are no updates to the Visa Bulletin at this time.

This article, under no circumstances, acts as legal advice; therefore, for any immigration questions, please contact your Attorney or the Ahluwalia Law Offices, P.C. (Team ALO).