In early AugustAmazon’s SVP of human resources, Beth Galetti, wrote a blog post urging the US Department of Homeland Security to speed up the processing of employment-based green cards.
According to data from the US Department of Labor, Amazon topped the list of companies applying for green cards in 2019 with 1,500 applications — a request related to self-service. However, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – the agency responsible for issuing green cards – is facing a failure to confirm tens of thousands of applications before the September 30 deadline.
Green cards are in high demand. Unlike temporary employment visas (eg, H-1Bs), workers are allowed to change jobs freely without losing their immigration status. In response to demand (and political pressure), Congress allocated 281,000 employment-based green cards in 2022, rising to 262,000 in 2021. (The usual limit is 140,000.) But the pandemic — and the restrictive laws — under the Trump administration have thrown in an addition. Wrench in a mostly manual, paper-driven process.
US embassies and consular offices were temporarily closed, creating a long queue of appointments to collect fingerprints and photographs. Annual per-country caps didn’t help matters — 875,000 approved petitions for green cards were waitlisted in 2021 because of the restrictions, according to the Cato Institute.
This year, USCIS said it has taken steps to speed up the ruling, saying in July it shifted staff resources to prioritize processing green cards in line with the Bloomberg Act and adopted a “risk-based approach” to waiving interview requirements. But it’s unclear whether that’s enough to prevent tens of thousands of green cards from being used. As of July 31, USCIS reported that nearly 210,000 applications had been adjudicated and more than 70,000 had been processed.