The truth about green card recovery

Much erroneous information has appeared against the Build Back Better legislation, in particular on the issue of green card recovery, mentioned in an opinion piece as a “gift for big technology”. Opponents of this provision invoke its Support by advocacy organizations like Fwd.us, which was founded by tech and business leaders.

So, what is this “gift” visa? The short answer is that there is no such thing; it is pure fantasy.

All foreign workers benefiting from this “gift” are already working in the United States, usually under H-1B status, a category with strong number restrictions for new petitions that was last updated in 2004. In most of the time they have lived and worked. here for over a decade. In addition, they are already well into the green card process with approved applications for permanent residence. So how would allowing these individuals to finally get green cards hurt American workers?

To understand why some people have to wait so long to get a green card when they have an approved petition, take a look at the November 2021 visa bulletin, in particular the 2nd and 3rd employment-based preference categories for Indian nationals. These are all Indian professionals with masters and bachelor’s degrees respectively who have been working hard in our country for years in technology, healthcare, education, business and other industries. Many of them worked in the United States for years before initiating a green card process. For those at the EB-2 level, if they started a green card process just before December 1, 2011, they are barely able to finalize that green card. Those of EB-3 are only one month early. Country limits in the green card process force them to wait years for a green card. According to a to study from the Cato Institute, “Indian employer-sponsored applicants have to wait 8 decades to get green cards, and nearly 200,000 will die before they can even theoretically reach first rank. While they wait their turn, their children age outside of their parents’ green card processes and lose their status at age 21. What should they do when the United States is in many cases the only country they know?

So, does the Build Back Better legislation somehow increase the limits on green cards?

No. The limits of the green cards were established in law in 1990 and have not since changed to employment-based green cards (140,000 per year) or family-based green cards (an effective annual cap of 226,000 per year).

So what is green card recovery? I am sure it is no stretch of the imagination to imagine that our government is not the most efficient. In particular, with the bureaucracy and politics of the various agencies judging the benefits of immigration, along with embassy closures and persistent delays due to COVID-19, hundreds of thousands of authorized green card locations are remained unused from 1992 to the present day. Collecting green cards is nothing more than a administrative fix to relieve the aforementioned people, restore the immigrant population in the United States to what Congress intended by reclaiming authorized green card slots, and generate billions of dollars in economic activity and revenue. The recovery of green cards has also happened in the past with and currently enjoys bipartisan support, so this is not a radical new strategy.

Finally, green card recovery isn’t just about big tech employers. It is also a lot doctors and health professionals working on the front lines to treat COVID patients, as well as researchers, entrepreneurs and others who are growing this economy and innovating for more than a decade with permanent residence still a distant goal. It is about these workers, as well as individuals, their spouses and their children. It is about correcting a mistake caused by the ineffectiveness of the government to help alleviate the suffering of many foreign workers, recognize their irreplaceable contributions to this country and grow the economy.

Adam Cohen is an immigration lawyer with Siskind Susser PC in Memphis, Tenn., Focusing his practice primarily in the health and academic fields. He is also a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Media Advocacy Committee.


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