Green Card Backlog Reduction Offers Hope for Aspiring U.S. Residents

Green Card Backlog Reduction Offers Hope for Aspiring U.S. Residents

In recent green card backlog news, Data from the Department of State's National Visa Centre (NVC) show that the backlog of immigrant visas (IVs) decreased by 4% between November (304,773) and December (292,105).

The number of green card applicants who had completed their cases and were ready for an interview fell from 341,392 in November to 336,870, a 1 per cent fall, according to the same source.

A case is considered "documentarily complete" when all necessary paperwork has been filed and approved by the NVC, meaning that the case is prepared for scheduling an interview.

The National Visa Centre (NVC) of the Department of State released information showing a significant increase in the number of applicants scheduled for green card interviews. In December, 45,765 interviews were scheduled, up from 36,619 in November.

Good news for those waiting impatiently for their green cards comes from the NVC numbers. International citizens can apply for a Green Card and a permanent residency permit to become citizens of the United States.

Green Cards categories as per the US government

The United States government issues Green Cards in four primary categories:

  • Green Card for kinship
  • Green Card for work-related purposes
  • Green Card for citizens who move back home
  • For the diversity visa, a green card

The number of people eligible for such permits exceeds the number of green cards available once the number valid each year is capped.

In September of last year, it was claimed that it would take 134 years to clear the 1,070,000 Indians in the US EB-2 and EB-3 employment green card backlog.

This implies that over 134,000 kids would reach adulthood before receiving a green card.

How long does it take to get a Green Card?

The Green Card processing time varies based on several factors. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Type of Green Card: The processing time depends on the kind of Green Card you are applying for. For example:
  • Family Preference Green Cards: These can take 1 to 10 years, depending on the wait time and yearly caps.
  • Employment-Based Green Cards: The processing time can range from 7 months to several years.
  • Processing Office Location: The location of the processing office matters. Some offices may have faster processing times than others.
  • Application Accuracy: Ensure that your application is accurate and complete. Any mistakes or missing information can cause delays.
  • Premium Processing: If eligible, consider opting for premium processing, which typically takes up to 15 days.
  • Patience: While waiting for your Green Card, patience is essential. Follow USCIS instructions carefully to avoid unnecessary delays.

According to research done last year by David J. Bier, associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute in the US, the time frame for a green card is 54 years if variables like ageing and death are considered, or 134 years if they are not.

Furthermore, the report indicates that these kids, often known as "documented dreamers," are forced to apply for an F-1 visa for overseas students, which comes with more expensive costs and fewer work options. Their only choice is to self-deport to India or another nation as a result.

To prevent the children who are long-term visa holders from ageing out of the system, the Senate and House introduced the America's Children Act last year.


What does the 4% backlog reduction mean for processing times?

While a positive step, the impact on individual processing times is difficult to predict. The reduction affects the overall backlog, but factors like your application category, USCIS workload, and processing location still play a significant role. However, increased interview scheduling in December 2023 suggests potential improvements for some applicants.

How can I estimate my green card processing timeframe?

USCIS provides estimated processing times on its website, but remember, these are just approximations. Consider these factors for a more personalised estimate:

  • Green card category: Family-sponsored categories often have longer wait times due to annual caps. Employment-based categories may process faster depending on your preference (EB-1, EB-2, etc.).
  • Current processing times for your USCIS office: USCIS field offices have varying processing speeds. Check the USCIS website for your specific location.
  • Completeness and accuracy of your application: Errors or missing information can lead to delays. Meticulously prepare and submit your application to avoid unnecessary wait times.

What are the eligibility requirements for different green card categories?

Each green card category has specific eligibility requirements. You can find detailed information on the USCIS website: Common categories include:

  • Family-sponsored: For spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens or green card holders.
  • Employment-based: For individuals with job offers from U.S. employers.
  • Diversity visa lottery: A random draw offering a limited number of annual green cards.

Can I expedite my green card processing?

For employment-based categories, premium processing can expedite your application for an additional fee, with a decision typically within 15 days. However, not all categories are eligible. Consulting with an immigration attorney can help you understand your options and explore potential strategies for faster processing.

What resources can I use to stay updated on green card backlog developments?

Several resources can keep you informed:

  • USCIS website:
  • Department of State Visa Bulletin: