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Indian Immigrants Will Need 151 Years To Get Their Green Card

Indian Immigrants Will Need 151 Years To Get Their Green Card

Imagine you are in a long queue for a roller-coaster ride, and it takes several hours for your turn to come. By the time it arrives, you have lost interest or moved on. The similar brunt is being felt by Indian immigrants living in the United States who have to wait for their green card for their lifetime (more than 150 years), as per data released by a libertarian think tank ‘Cato Institute’. Cato’s report says that at the current rate of visa issuances EB-2 category must wait 151 years for a green card.

The road to acquiring permanent residency seems a never-ending process now, as recently the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had released the number of applicants as per the category, which figures roughly the number of years it will take people applying today to receive their green card.

green card

As per the mid-April (2018) report by USCIS 3,06,400 Indian immigrants clubbing their spouses and minor children 3,25,819, which adds up to 6,32,219 immigrants are waiting for their green cards. The backlog is the biggest for the employment-based second preference (EB-2) category immigrants who have advanced degrees. While extraordinary and skilled category people, i.e., EB-1 program immigrants, have the shortest wait time of at least 6-7 years. As per the USCIS, there are 34,824 Indian applicants under EB-1 category and after including their spouse 48,754 and children, 83,578. Those immigrants under EB-3 program having bachelor’s degree will have to wait for 17 years. There are 54,892 Indians in this category, clubbed with 60,381 spouses and children, the total number of Indians waiting for green card in the EB-3 category is 1,15,273.


The reason explained by ‘Cato’ is that there is a minimum window of 40,040 in each category. Hence the share or allocation of cards cannot be adjusted if any one category has a heist demand. Secondly, the wait time varies with immigrants from a country, as they can’t receive more than 7% of green cards. EB-2 is subject to per-country limits.

While even for the EB-3 category it would be a tough race if the per-country limits end up full. If that happens, the EB-3 worker will receive their green card in 45 years instead of 17 years. This per-country system is discrimination against Indian immigrants, especially for the EB-3 worker. Ten and thousands of immigrants from other countries are swiftly bypassing the Indian immigrants in line, even if Indians have waited for a long time.


This waiting time calculation is absurd and creates discrimination against high-skilled Indian immigrants. EB-2 is facing the biggest backlog of 151 years of waiting period, which is pointless because by the time law changes the person would have left or applied in a new country, or he/she should die and take rebirth to acquire citizen status. The government should take this matter on a serious note and increase the number of green cards issues.

Pallavi Nair

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