The Road to a Green Card

Currently, there is a very high demand for US green cards. The USCIS uses a quota system that provides a fixed number of green cards in any immigration category in any one year. Those that cannot get a green card immediately have to wait in line until one becomes available. Consequently, individuals from countries that have high demand can find themselves waiting for their green cards. No country can receive more than seven (7%) percent of the total green cards issued in each category in a year. As a result, applicants from India in the most popular “EB-3″ category can find themselves with a wait of over ten (10) years in order to be considered for their green card.

Most green card applicants qualify for permanent residency under the “EB-3″, of a skilled worker. Applicants under the category have been working in the United States under a H1-B visa for the requisite period. There is an annual cap of approximately 41,500 green cards that can be granted under the EB-3 classification. However, the number of applicants from India is so high, USCIS is processing applications from those who applied before 8th December 2002, a waiting time of over ten years.

In comparison, there is currently no waiting time for applicant under the EB-5 investment category making it a very attractive streamlined avenue for residency for interested foreign nationals.

Green Card – Processing Lag – An overview

Visa Category General India
EB-1 Priority workers of extraordinary ability Cap 41,455 None None
EB-2 Members of ‘the professions’ with advanced degrees, ‘exceptional ability’ or ‘national interest’ None 1 Sept 04 None 1 Sept 04
EB-3 Skilled workers and professionals Cap 41,455 1 July 07 8 Dec 02
EB-3 Other workers 1 July 07 8 Dec 02
EB-4 ‘Special immigrants’ including religious workers Cap 10,921 None None
EB-5 Investors Cap 10,921 None None

*Data as of August 2013