Sad State of employment based green cards – especially EB2/EB3 – India….


Without a law change, someone applying today for a green card in EB2 or EB3 India category will likely NEVER get their green card in their lifetime. This is a measured prediction, based on the current situation and numbers. It may take up to 70 yrs (as per some sources and predictions) for an individual to get a green card, if applied in that category, and that’s not an exaggeration.

Sadly, there is no strong person or an organization or a force to represent this issue as an urgent one. We definitely don’t see this in media,  TV or news channels screaming about this issue or a strong organization lobbying to solve this issue with law makers. 

Yes, there are organizations which take up this issue and continuously trying to show how important it is and how much injustice is happening to people in this category,  but really,  in a grand scheme of things, this is not a priority and my personal opinion is it won’t be a priority for the government.

But I feel for the people who are in this category, as they are in a very peculiar situation. They can’t really take decisions, which are particularly dependent on their immigration status – which means they don’t have the luxury or the same level of confidence like a permanent resident or a citizen, when it comes to travel, job change, setting up independent businesses, buying a home or even renewing their driver’s license. They are in this constant state of confusion and waiting mode..for a very long time.. yet they pay the same taxes, contribute to social security and medicare just like a permanent resident or a citizen of the country.

Hopefully, everyone who is reading this article, understands what this means, if not read below.

Let’s start from the start…

In the US, a green card is given to someone who becomes a permanent resident in the country. There are many legal ways to become a permanent resident eg: sponsorship by a family member, by spouse or by an employer.

I want to talk about the employer sponsorship based green card (which are classified as EB1, EB2, EB3, EB4 and EB5) and specifically about EB2 and EB3 categories and more specifically about India based legal non-immigrants…..looking to become legal immigrants.

As the ranking next to EB (short for Employment Based) suggests, 1,2,3,4,5 is the preference given to that category of green cards. EB1 is highest preferred, then EB2, and then EB3 etc..  

What is a backlog?

Each country is given a quota of green cards and with India, being one of the countries with highest population, also happens to be one of the countries with highest young population, which means, it is one of the countries with highest working population.

The percentage of people applying to get a US green card in India, is comparable to other countries…..but it doesn’t mean it is the same number of people, instead its more.

What this means is, there are more number of applications to process and because every year there are more and new applications coming in, and there are only standard and limited number of green cards given each year, the backlog of applications have piled up, especially in the case of India.

What is retrogression?

Nobody knows the exact formula for prioritizing, processing and moving the application lot, except for USCIS. There are so many articles that are there on the internet, which try to explain and predict the dates (which anyway is a guess work) but the point is only USCIS knows when and why to retrogress the dates.

So, what is retrogression and how does this impact?

USCIS is responsible for processing green card applications and sometimes they have to retrogress dates. Each month USCIS revises how many applications they have to process and publishes a visa bulletin like this: Visa bulletin which was published for the month of October 2017.

As of October 2017, to give you a summary of EB2 and EB3 India, the most backlogged categories – USCIS is processing applications which were applied on or before 15-SEP-08 for EB2 category (which is 9 years behind) and 15-OCT-06 for EB3 category (which is 11 years behind).

This is like a newsletter or monthly update or whatever you may want to call, but this is the way that USCIS lets people know the current state of applications for all green cards. This has information about application processing cut off dates, the applications until which date have been completed, so that those people whose applications have been processed can proceed to apply for a green card.

These dates don’t move forward all the time, they can move backwards too, which is when they call it as retrogression. The impact is obvious, people waiting for their green cards have to wait even longer, when these dates move back.

Again, the formula for retrogression  is not clear, except that USCIS saw heavy demand in older applications and have to go back and process those dates first, before they can process the applications at hand.


So, with limited number of green cards being processed, more number of applications coming in each year, and with the occasional (sometimes regular) process of retrogression, the green card process seems like this : 

In programming language, a “for” loop with a very high iteration number. And people are waiting for that iteration to complete. Currently that iteration seems like 20 – 30 years for people in India category, who already applied for green cards and could be 50 – 70 years for people who are looking to apply for green card now.

Fortunately, this is not the case with every country and per the visa bulletin, China shares the same problem as India, but they are in a better state when compared to India.

If the laws don’t change, soon this could be an issue for every country.. soon.

Please share this link as much as you can, so that this issue gets noticed. That’s the least (or most – depending on how you look at this), that we all could do on this issue.


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