It is not very easy to get the USA Green Cards. And yet there were over 60,000 employee-based unused green cards in 2021.
Each year, the American government issues over 1 million green cards under various category heads. The number of applications received is much higher and the waitlist can be as long as 90 years.
In light of this, it is shocking to note that the US government left as many as 66,781 employment-based green cards unused in the 2021 fiscal year.
USA Green Card Categories
The number of green cards available in the EB-4 category for religious and other special applicants and the EB-5 category for investors is limited and yet there are often a few left unissued. These unused green cards may be issued to applicants in the other categories.
Green cards are issued in 5 main categories:
The EB-1 category is for executives and applicants with extraordinary skills while EB-2 is for applicants with exceptional or advanced degrees. The EB-3 category is mostly for applicants with a bachelor’s degree. EB-4 is for religious and other special applicants and EB-5 is for investors.
The EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 categories have a cap of 75,014 green cards each while EB-4 and EB-5 have a cap of 18,622 green cards each. EB-4 and EB-5 see the fewest applicants and the green cards issued in this category are much lower than the cap.
The leftover green cards can be issued in the EB-1 category. Similarly, if fewer than the permitted number of green cards are issued in EB-1, the remaining green cards can be issued to applicants in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories.
Green cards left unissued in the EB-2 category may also be added to the EB-3 cap. Thus, the total number of green cards that can be issued in the EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 categories may be higher than the category cap.
The Unused USA Green Cards
In the fiscal year 2021, there were about 262,288 green cards available in the EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4 and EB-5 categories. Of these, only 195,507 were awarded.
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The remaining 66,781 green cards were not allocated to other categories and remained unused till the end of the year despite the presence of 1.4 million immigrants waiting in line for green cards.
Indians And The Wait For USA Green Cards
Indians account for the highest percentage of USA green cards applicants. As with a cap on categories, there is a cap on the maximum number of green cards issued to applicants from each country. Thus, only 7% of the total green cards available can be issued to Indian applicants.
Skilled Indians currently face a 90-year wait for a green card. However, this waiting period could be reduced if the entire number of green cards available are issued each year.
Further, in the same way, that USA green cards left unused in one category can be issued to applicants in another category, if the rest of the world does not use the green cards available to them, more than 7% of the green cards can be issued to Indians.
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