There is some interesting news surrounding green cards this week in Washington. As many know, there is currently a problem in the U.S. immigration system for those who would like to become legal permanent residents (green card holders), but have been waiting years for a priority date due to green card backlogs. This is specifically an American problem, as the U.S. economy attracts top talent from around the world, and of which the U.S. immigration system only allows a certain number of green cards to be given annually per nationality.
The system affects immigrants from India and China (mainland) especially, however, it also affects immigrants from Latin America who have high numbers of annual applicants to the green card process. Overall, there has never been a real concrete way for dealing with the massive backlog except for applicants to simply wait years on end for approval or to be able to submit their paperwork.
The Quota System
For much of the summer, it was suggested by immigration advocates and other experts that the way to get around this system, especially in a post Covid era with increasing backlogs, was to dismantle the quota system. immigration law provides for approximately 140,000 employment-based green cards to be issued each year. However, only 7% of those green cards can go to individuals from a single country annually. India, for example, has large a population, that only a very small amount of green cards can be awarded to applicants. Getting rid of the quota system has long been praised by Indian nationals.
However getting rid of the quota system has proved to be a complete stalemate in Congress with Democrats and Republicans unsure of what to replace the system with and overall no clear consensus on how such a process would work.
Paying an Extra Fee
This week, however, it has been announced by congressional members that the new bill for immigration, which has not been finalized yet, will include a new method to deal with the never ending green card backlog—pay an extra fee for permanent residency.
Under the proposed rule, an employment based immigration applicant who has a priority date that is two years or longer for wait time can adjust their status by paying an additional fee of $5,000. Similarly, a family-based immigrant sponsored by a U.S. citizen with a priority date that is more than two years long can adjust to permanent residence by paying a supplemental fee of $2,500.