India Green Card backlog: How to speed up your application

India green card backlog
Facundo Bermudez
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Published on 21 Jun 2024 Time to read 9 min read Last update on 28 Jun 2024

Getting through the U.S. immigration system can feel overwhelming, especially for talented Indian STEM workers aiming to secure a green card in less than a year. With the India green card backlog making the process even more challenging, this article is here to help, providing a clear guide on how to use the EB-1A category for a faster route to permanent residency.

We’ll show you how to use your existing EB-2 or EB-3 priority dates to move to an EB-1A visa. If you’re unsure about what a priority date is, don’t worry—we’ll explain it and how it affects your immigration journey. We’ll also cover the EB-1A category, which, despite its high standards, offers quick processing times. As another option, we’ll introduce the O-1 visa, giving you more flexibility on your path to living and working in the U.S.

By the end of this article, you’ll understand the steps and strategies needed to potentially obtain a green card within a year, using your skills and achievements in the STEM fields. Let’s begin.

Understanding the India green card backlog

For many Indian nationals, the journey to obtaining a U.S. green card is marked by long waiting periods and complex procedures. The U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin sheds light on the availability of immigrant visa numbers across various categories and countries. Unfortunately, Indian nationals face significant backlogs in the EB-2 and EB-3 employment-based visa categories, making the path to permanent residency a lengthy and challenging one.

U.S. government data reveals that over one million Indians are currently stuck in employment-based immigration backlogs, underscoring the inefficiencies and challenges within the U.S. immigration system.

EB-2 Backlog

The EB-2 category is designated for professionals with advanced degrees or individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Currently, for Indian nationals, the priority date listed in the latest Visa Bulletin is April 15, 2012. This means only applicants whose priority date is earlier than April 15, 2012, can proceed with their visa applications.

To understand the extent of this backlog, let’s break it down: From April 15, 2012, to April 15, 2024, there are 12 years. Adding the time from April 15, 2024, to June 15, 2024, gives us another 2 months. Finally, from June 15, 2024, to June 19, 2024, we add 4 more days. Therefore, the total backlog for Indian nationals in the EB-2 category is 12 years, 2 months, and 4 days. This extensive wait time highlights the challenges faced by many highly skilled professionals.

EB-3 Backlog

The EB-3 category is for skilled workers, professionals, and other workers. For Indian nationals, the priority date in the latest Visa Bulletin is August 22, 2012. This indicates that only applicants with a priority date before August 22, 2012, are eligible to move forward with their visa applications.

To calculate this backlog: From August 22, 2012, to August 22, 2023, there are 11 years. From August 22, 2023, to June 22, 2024, there are 10 months. Given that June 22, 2024, is very close to the current date, the additional days are negligible. Therefore, the total backlog for Indian nationals in the EB-3 category is 11 years and 10 months.

These lengthy backlogs mean that many Indian STEM workers face significant delays in their journey to obtaining a green card through the EB-2 and EB-3 categories. This wait can be frustrating and can impact career opportunities and personal life plans.

What is a priority date?

The priority date is essentially your place in line for an immigrant visa. It is the date when your employer filed the labor certification or when the USCIS received your I-140 petition.

Imagine the priority date as your reservation at a popular restaurant. The earlier your reservation, the sooner you’ll get a table. In the context of green cards, once your priority date becomes current—meaning it matches or is earlier than the cut-off date listed in the Visa Bulletin—you can proceed with your application for a green card.

For Indian nationals, understanding this date is even more critical due to the significant backlogs in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories. These backlogs mean that even highly skilled professionals might have to wait years for their turn. However, knowing your priority date helps you track your progress and plan accordingly.

By keeping an eye on the Visa Bulletin and understanding where you stand, you can better navigate the complexities of the U.S. immigration system. Now that we understand the different backlogs and the significance of the priority date, it’s important to highlight that there is hope for obtaining a green card sooner than the estimated wait times.

Reusing your priority date for EB-1A

Here’s the fantastic news for Indian STEM professionals: if you’ve already applied for an EB-2 or EB-3 visa, you can reuse your priority date for your EB-1A application. This means the time you’ve already invested in waiting doesn’t go to waste. By transferring your existing priority date to the EB-1A application, you can significantly shorten your wait time for a green card. It’s like skipping ahead in a long line, bringing you closer to obtaining your green card much faster.

By taking advantage of the faster processing time of the EB-1A visa, you can soon embark on your new life, advance your career, and provide stability for your family without enduring prolonged uncertainty. This strategic move not only accelerates your immigration process but also elevates your status as a top-tier professional, recognized for your exceptional skills and achievements. Now, let’s dive into why this category is an excellent alternative and what you need to qualify.

What is the EB-1A visa?

The EB-1A visa is designed for individuals who demonstrate extraordinary ability in their field, whether it be in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.

Benefits of the EB-1A visa

  • Expedited Processing: The EB-1A visa typically has shorter wait times compared to EB-2 and EB-3 categories, allowing you to obtain your green card more quickly.
  • No Labor Certification Required: Unlike other employment-based visas, the EB-1A does not require a labor certification, streamlining the application process.
  • Self-Petition: You can apply for the EB-1A visa without an employer sponsor, giving you more control over your immigration journey.
  • Family Inclusion: Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 can also obtain green cards through your EB-1A visa.

Criteria for demonstrating extraordinary ability

To qualify for the EB-1A visa, you must provide evidence of sustained national or international acclaim and that your achievements have been recognized in your field of expertise. This can be demonstrated through a one-time achievement (such as a major internationally recognized award) or by meeting at least three of the following ten criteria:

  1. Lesser recognized prizes or awards: Evidence of receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence.
  2. Membership in associations: Evidence of your membership in associations that require outstanding achievement of their members.
  3. Published material: Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
  4. Judging the work of others: Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel.
  5. Original contributions: Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to your field.
  6. Authorship of scholarly articles: Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media.
  7. Artistic exhibitions or showcases: Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases.
  8. Leading or critical role: Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations.
  9. High salary or remuneration: Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in your field.
  10. Commercial successes: Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts.

Considering the O-1 visa as an alternative

If the EB-1A application process feels overwhelming, or if you’re unsure about your qualifications at the moment, there’s another viable option to consider: the O-1 visa. This can serve as a stepping stone while you work on strengthening your EB-1A case.

The O-1 visa is also designed for individuals with extraordinary abilities in their field, whether it be in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. It offers a temporary solution that allows you to work and live in the U.S. while you prepare and file your EB-1A application. This way, you can still make progress toward your green card without being stuck in the backlog.

Benefits of the O-1 visa

  • Temporary residency: The O-1 visa allows you to live and work in the U.S. for an initial period of up to three years, with the possibility of extensions.
  • Fewer requirements: The O-1 visa requirements are often seen as less stringent than those for the EB-1A, making it a more accessible option for many.
  • Employer sponsorship: While the O-1 visa requires an employer sponsor, it provides an immediate way to continue your career in the U.S.

Conclusion

Going through the U.S. immigration process can be tough, especially for skilled Indian STEM professionals facing long wait times. But don’t worry—with the right approach and awareness of your options, you can speed up your journey to getting a green card.

At Visa Franchise, we understand how challenging this journey can be, and we’re here to help. If you’re looking for a safe and reliable path to your green card, we invite you to reach out to us. Fill out our form to apply and let our dedicated team guide you through every step. We’re committed to making your American dream come true. Contact us today and take the first step towards a brighter future.

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Mentioned visas

EB2-NIW (green card)

An employment-based visa intended for those who either have an advanced degrees or exceptional ability

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E2 Visa

An employment-based visa intended for those who either have an advanced degrees or exceptional ability

Access E-2 visa details