Approximately 800,000 legal migrants living in the United States as skilled employees are living in limbo.
This is the result of an unprecedented backlog on employment-based green cards; due to legislation that stipulates only a certain number of migrants from each country can gain American citizenship every year.
As a result of this quota – which was first implemented in 1990 – nationals from certain countries, mainly India, have had to wait for more fifty years to find out the results of their application for residence. This is all while they work in skilled and highly skilled roles (often as engineers, doctors, and IT specialists) and pay taxes.
Green cards are held by people who have gained permanent residency in the US. The per-country quota was implemented more over 30 years ago before the tech-boom meant that talent from places like India was needed to accommodate for skills gaps.
As a result, immigration attorneys and members of Congress have been coming together to push and support changes to the immigration and nationality system in the US.
…nationals from certain countries, mainly India, have had to wait for more fifty years to find out the results of their application…
Bruce Morrison, a lobbyist, and established immigration attorney described the issues this backlog is causing for individuals and their families.
“Valuable, skilled people decide they should leave because they’re never going to get what they hoped for”, Morrison said. “And valuable people don’t come because they figure our system is so broken they can’t see their way through it”. Ultimately, he suggests, “American prosperity suffers”.
This crisis became apparent in October last year after a narrow bill that attempted to address the issue was passed onto the Senate.
It is not only green card applicants who make up the 80,000 backlog. The partners and dependent children of them also contribute to the number and are included in the 140,000 yearly quota.
Concerns arise when individuals who have been working in the US for decades while on the wait-list pass away. This means that their families are removed from the backlog and therefore subject to losing their status altogether.
Critics have called this legislation “archaic” and “institutionally racist” and called for it to be reviewed. However, the hostile attitudes of the Trump administration make it very unlikely that this will happen.