US Considering Hiking Skilled Worker Green Cards

After the Immigration Bill, it’s Green Card Up for debate

Immigration seems to be the flavor of the season in US. Not even a month from the day President Bush’s Immigration Bill failed to garner the Senate’s support, the Congressional leaders are discussing a bold legislation that aims to sharply increase the number of green card slots for high-skilled foreign workers.

As was in the case of the Immigration Bill, this legislation is bound to stir up another series of debates. However, if it passes it would mean a hike of around 100,000 green cards for skilled workers in addition to the current 140,000 that are allotted each year.

While many have reacted positively to this piece of news, we would like to be cautious and take this with a pinch of salt. While such legislation will great relief to the large number of High-skilled tech workers who have been waiting in a long queue for the green card currently which has stretched to five or more years for some. Companies who depend on these skilled workers are also pushing for this issue.

USCIS has Green Cards to Spare

Recently a major Green Card fiasco saw USCIS and DOS leading many green card applicants through the ringer by first allowing then disallowing and then again allowing all applicants under Employment based categories to file for Adjustment of Status for a 31-day period. This major chaotic situation also revealed that a huge number of EB Based Green Card slots were going to get left unused this year if this 31-day window was not initiated. Last year, 10,000 of the 140,000 green cards allocated for EB applicants were never used. USCIS has indicated they do not have enough manpower to handle the case load.

This of course has not only evoked an outraged reaction from the 50,000 odd employment green card applicants waiting in cue right now, but also have made the Congress site up and realize that Green Card process needs serious reviewing.

Considering that most immigration related issues in US are now centered around the lack of numbers, the fact that USCIS has been leaving a sizeable number of green card slots unused every year, which if allocated can very well reduce the green card backlog drastically, has led the Congress to serious discuss a legislation which will attempt to re-allocate the unused visa slots left over the last 10 years to the skilled worker category.

USCIS failing to follow last re-allocation order

Interestingly enough, the current EB Green Card slots 140,000 is a result of similar re-allocation bid by the Congress in 2000. Even at that time, the USCIS has been leaving un-used green card slots every year and was ordered to re-allocate them by increasing the annual limit of Green card cap. If we are facing the same situation again, may be the Congress should first act upon the fact that USCIS has failed to follow the previous re-allocation order so far.

Wrong Time for Right Issue

Just like the Immigration Bill which came at a wrong time, when Immigration was the hottest political issue, this legislation also is likely to meet similar fate. The Congress is unlikely to pass any legislation related to immigration before the November 2008 Presidential Elections.