US Republican representative for Iowa, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, has introduced the Preserving Employment Visas Act in the US House of Representatives in an effort to preserve unused employment-based visas from Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021.
The Bill comes amid fears that more than 80,000 US green cards would be wasted following their expiration on September 30, 2021. If passed, the legislation would enable United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to preserve unused employment-based visas from the 2020 and 2021 Fiscal Years.
The legislation accompanies a Bill introduced in the House in September by Senator Thom Tillis.
Fair and orderly immigration system
In an official statement, Miller-Meeks said: “Ensuring that our immigration system is fair and orderly is one of my top priorities in Congress. These visas are already authorized by Congress and would have been used if not for the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“My legislation would fuel the American recovery from COVID-19, contribute to long-term economic growth, and provide relief for healthcare providers by reducing the green card backlog. As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, I look forward to working with USCIS to make sure that the US immigration system works for everyone,” she added.
During the 2020 Fiscal Year, 122,000 family-preference visas went unused. As a result, the number of employment-based US visas made available in the 2021 Fiscal Year surged to 226,000.
According to Miller-Meeks, the sharp rise in employment-based visa availability represents an opportunity to reduce the US green card backlog and improve American competitiveness through legal immigration.
USCIS processing delays
There are fears that ongoing processing delays at USCIS could result in employment-based visas being wasted. According to recent court filings, USCIS is currently at risk of wasting nearly 83,000 employment-based visas. This is in addition to 9,100 unused visas from the 2020 Fiscal Year.
Miller-Meeks claims that wasting these visas would represent ‘a huge loss to American economic competitiveness and the healthcare industry’.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, American businesses and healthcare providers were already struggling to fill skilled and unskilled jobs, and continue to face labor shortages as they attempt to recover from the pandemic.
In an effort to stop US green cards going to waste a 125-strong group of Indian and Chinese nationals filed a lawsuit.
Indian IT professional, Sandeep Pawar said: “There are hundreds of thousands of gainfully employed legal immigrants in the US who would benefit from these green cards. Many of them have been waiting for a decade or more to adjust to permanent resident status but have been unable to do so due to a lack of available visa numbers.”
“But this year, if USCIS does its job efficiently and promptly, these immigrants finally have the opportunity to become permanent residents, something which would otherwise take decades,” Pawar added.
Meanwhile, research fellow at the CATO Institute, David J. Bier, claimed that the Biden administration is responsible for the waste of green cards.
He said: “Without drastic revisions in the glacial processing times, President Biden will have presided over one of the largest cuts to legal immigration in US history — and almost no one is talking about it.”
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