As many as 125 Indian and Chinese nationals have filed a lawsuit in the US to challenge the slowdown in adjudicating green card approvals. They aim to save the annual quota of green cards that lapse at the end of the fiscal year.
As per the petition, the Department of Homeland Security had failed to adjudicate applications for several green cards on time. This has led to “hundreds of thousands” of visas going to waste. As a result of this, numerous Indian and Chinese professionals will miss the opportunity to become permanent residents, the petition states. They even fall back into a “backlog” for years before they can finally immigrate.
Petitioners filed applications for permanent residency during or before December 2020 with their dependent family members (spouses and minor unmarried children).
“The failure to fully adjudicate all available visas in a fiscal year is governmental waste of epic proportions. Congress created a ‘spillover provision’ specifically so that unused visas would spillover from the family category for unused family-based visas into the employment category,” Jeff Joseph, senior partner at Joseph Law Firm, one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit, was quoted as saying. “The unlawful withholding of the adjudication of those visas by USCIS frustrates Congressional intent, further exacerbates the historical employment-based backlogs for nationals of China and India, and is just pure administrative waste.”
The pandemic led to very few family-based green cards being approved in fiscal 2020. As a result, they were ‘rolled over’ to the employment-based category in FY21.
USCIS follows an October to September year. As per the most recent data from USCIS, approximately 2,73,000 employment-based green card applications were pending as of March 31, 2021.
“USCIS’ inability or unwillingness to adjudicate green card applications promptly is going to lead to the loss of at least 100,000 green cards in just under 60 days,” said Greg Siskind, founding partner at Siskind, Susser PC and attorney to the plaintiffs. “That will mean many years of extra waiting for people who have already, in many cases, been waiting more than a decade for a green card. This suit is designed to force USCIS to institute immediate changes to prevent this from happening.”
USCIS, at the beginning of the fiscal year in October 2020, said that it is going to accept applications from thousands of Chinese and Indian nationals. The petition urges the court to pass an order asking the Department of State to adjudicate these applications by September 30, 2021.
The petition also urges the court to order the USCIS to reserve green cards when an application is filed.