New Study Exposes Massive Green Card Backlog in the United States, Urges Overhaul of Immigration Process

Washington, D.C. – A recent white paper has shed light on the significant challenges presented by the green card backlog in the United States, calling for a comprehensive overhaul of the system. The study conducted by the Cato Institute revealed that only 3 percent of applicants are projected to obtain permanent residence by the fiscal year 2024. This alarming statistic highlights the magnitude of the issue, with approximately 34.7 million applications currently backlogged.

According to the white paper, the backlog has been caused by the cap on the number and types of immigrants who can apply for green cards. The study recommends that Congress waive the stringent rules and arbitrary caps that hinder the approval of green card applicants. It also suggests a gradual increase in annual legal immigration and a more proportional allocation of green cards across different categories.

Among the categories of green cards, the study specifically focuses on the Employment-Based Green Cards. It projects that only 8 percent or 1.8 million applicants in this category will successfully obtain green cards in 2024. Despite a temporary increase in the employment-based cap, the demand continues to surpass the available supply. This has resulted in prolonged waiting times, particularly for Indian applicants who make up half of those in the employer-sponsored categories, facing delays of over a century for a green card.

To address the backlog, the white paper proposes several measures. It recommends a proportional increase in caps for family-sponsored green cards, using the uncapped immediate relative categories as a benchmark. This adjustment could potentially lead to the issuance of six million additional green cards, addressing 85 percent of the family-sponsored backlog. Additionally, the paper proposes granting green cards to all 35 million applicants in 2024 and implementing a permanent increase in legal immigration to five million annually. The projected result of this reform would be a moderate increase in the US immigrant population, reaching around 40 million by 2033.

The findings of the white paper have generated concerns among the Indian diaspora, highlighting the urgent need for reform to streamline the immigration process. Many Indian immigrants who contribute significantly to the US economy and society find themselves entangled in a system that is struggling to cope with the demand for permanent residency.

The report underscores the critical need for comprehensive immigration reforms in the United States. As the debate on immigration reform continues, stakeholders and policymakers are urged to take into account the human and economic implications of the current backlog, seeking solutions for a more efficient and inclusive immigration system.