A presidential advisory committee has voted in unison to suggest the US President Joe Biden to process all applications for green cards or permanent residency within six months.
The recommendations of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (PACAANHPI) if adopted, is likely to bring cheers to Indian citizens.
An eminent Indian American community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria moved the proposal during the meeting of the PACAANHPI, during which all its 25 commissioners unanimously approved it.
The meeting proceedings here in the national capital were webcast live last week as well.
The advisory commission also recommended US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review their processes, systems, and policies and establish new internal cycle time goals by streamlining processes, removing redundant steps, automating any manual approvals and improving the internal processes dashboards and reporting system and enhancing policies.
The move is aimed at reducing the pending green card backlog.
The recommendations seek to reduce the cycle time for processing all forms related to family-based green card applications, DACA renewals and all other green card applications within six months and issue adjudicate decisions within six months of the application received by it.
The commission has also put forward a recommendation that the National Visa Center (NVC) State Department facility should hire additional officers to increase their capacity to process green card applications interviews by 100 per cent in three months from August 2022, and to increase Green card applications visa interviews and adjudicate decisions by 150 per cent – up from capacity of 32,439 in April 2022 — by April 2023.
“Thereafter Green Card visa interviews and visa processing timeline should be a maximum of six months,” it said.
In 2021, only 65,452 family preference green cards were issued out of the annual 2,26,000 green cards available. As a result, hundreds of thousands of green cards were left unused.
There were 4,21,358 pending interviews in April compared to 4,36,700 in March, according to the policy paper by Bhutoria.
Though the US population has grown substantially in recent decades, there is no change in the immigration system to keep up with the current pace, he said.
Along with this, the method used to calculate the annual number of employment-and-family-based immigration is deeply flawed, and has led to family-based immigration levels being set at their absolute minimum every year for the past 20 years, while hundreds of thousands of green cards for family members go wasted, never used by any individuals when they could be used to reunite families instead, Bhutoria said.
“The extraordinary wait time for a green card to be available causes significant hardship for American families forced to wait decades to reunite with their loved ones, even though those individuals are already qualified to immigrate right now,” Bhutoria said.
“Family separation takes a terrible emotional toll on families, and it imposes clear logistical, economic, and emotional hardships on families, and the growing nature of the backlogs makes the process uncertain and future planning impossible,” he said.