Thursday, September 16, 2021

Immigration advocates frustrated with Biden administration as green cards are set to expire

The clock is ticking on more than 100,000 employment-based green cards that the Biden administration could issue before the end of the fiscal year. The green cards, or permanent residency permits, are available for the administration to assign to eligible immigrants but will expire on Sept. 30.

Biden’s pro-immigrant rhetoric has contrasted with former President Trump’s restriction stance. However, the Biden administration has shown no signs that it will assign the expiring green cards.

Almost 90% of the people who would be eligible are Indian nationals currently on temporary work visas. They face decades-long wait times to receive permanent residency.

Immigration advocates are growing increasingly frustrated with the slow pace of adjudication and want the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to fast-track applications, thus, making use of green cards that were left unclaimed because of the pandemic and Trump administration policies.

Under Biden, the USCIS has made some changes to speed up and simplify green card applications, specially for foreign nationals who want to change their status from a work visa. One of the most significant changes has been extending the validity of a medical examination from two to four years, a decision that specially helps Indian nationals stuck in the green card queue who must resubmit their visa and green card applications yearly.

The slowdowns have opened USCIS and other Biden immigration officials to criticism from defenders of various immigrant groups as frustration grows over visas and green cards that advocates say could be released. “We have several cases that have continued against the Biden administration regarding unused visas. the Biden administration has continued Trump-era litigation and has been slow to issue visas under the Diversity Visa Program, ” said Marisa Limón Garza, Deputy Director of Hope Border Institute.

The Diversity Visa Program grants immigration benefits to citizens of countries that have historically low levels of immigration to the United States. Advocates won a court victory against the Biden administration to issue more than 9,000 additional visas, including 921 for Afghan citizens, but the administration has yet to issue the documents.

Limón stated, “There is no reason why this administration who, number one, has promoted that they will take the steps that are necessary to make sure that our Afghan allies and refugees and asylum-seekers are evacuated from Afghanistan and, two, that they promote the diversity visa program should continue to stand in the way of a court order that would finally allow for some relief.”

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