Green Card Process Needs Further Review

If nothing good came out of the recent Green Card fiasco involving DOS and USCIS, at least many US senators have woken up to the fact that the green card process need to be reviewed and Agency’s handling of the issue also need to be scrutinized.

The Green Card Soap Opera

The drama started on June 13th with the July Visa Bulletin issued by DOS proclaiming to the world that USCIS will throw its gates open to all Employment based green card applicants (Except EB-3 Other Workers Category) for the month of July, 2007. For people who have been waiting for more than 5 years for these opportunity, this sounded just too good to be true.

Unfortunately, on July 2nd, the DOS just proved it was indeed to good to be true by withdrawing the July 2007 Visa Bulletin and issuing an update which not only made all employment categories un-available for the month of July, but August and September as well. That lest no chance for any application till October, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

Confused and angry, the immigrants who has till then run from pillar to post gathering documents for their application retaliated by staging protest, processions and sending flowers to all USCIS Service centers in a move popularized by a Indian Movie based on Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent ways. They were joined by an handful of Senators who wrote letters to the two agencies requesting a solution.

Under the overwhelming reaction and protest, DOS finally capitulated and withdrew the July 2nd Update, leaving the original July 2007 Bulletin as the rightful one. Following this USCIS immediately sought to clean up the mess by allowing a 31-day window, from July 17th to August 17th within which all categories allowed in the July Bulletin can apply. Moreover, applications that were rejected were being accepted back.

Communication Gap

All throughout this fiasco, mixed bureaucratic signals indicated a lack of communication between the USCIS and DOS. While DOS seems to have acted upon the information that USCIS still had almost 50% of its EB slots left unused and non-enough cases to fill up these slots before October 2007 (the new FY); USCIS seems to have gone ahead and pushed its resources to fill up the allotted slots. The Director of USCIS Emilio T. Gonzalez himself admitted in a written statement that “the federal government’s management of this process needs further review”.

What’s in store?

While the move to accept Green Card applicants from all EB categories irrespective of their priority dates have come has a huge relief to many, the reality of the situation may not be that good. Firstly, the huge volume of application will mean delayed receipting, processing and a whole new backlog of filed application for USICS to process. Secondly, the EB categories are likely to be retrogresses following this backlog, and for anyone who missed the window, the wait might just get longer.

Most Immigrants and their representative feel that this is simply a timely patch and the Green cars system needs serious review and more permanent and concrete legislative solutions, or we are likely to face more such situations in the coming years.