Green Card backlog: US to provide Employment Authorisation cards for 5 years; thousands of Indians to benefit

The government of the United States of America has announced that it would provide Employment Authorisation cards to some non-immigrant categories, including those waiting for Green Cards, for five years, a move that would benefit thousands of Indians living in the country.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is held on October 11, 2023, for 21 people who have become new US citizens, at the USCIS New Jersey Central Field Office. Photo courtesy: X/@USCIS

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said that it was increasing the maximum validity period of Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) to five years for initial and renewal EADs for certain non-citizens who must apply for employment authorisation. These include applicants for asylum or withholding of removal; adjustment of status under INA 245; and suspension of deportation or cancellation of removal, the federal agency said.

Increasing the maximum EAD validity period to five years was intended to significantly reduce the number of new Forms I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, that the USCIS would receive for renewal EADs over the next several years, contributing to its efforts to reduce associated processing times and backlogs, it said.

However, whether the non-citizen maintained employment authorisation remained dependent on their underlying status, circumstances, and EAD filing category, it said. For example, if an individual received an EAD under the category based on a pending adjustment of status application for the maximum validity period of five years, and the adjustment application was then denied, their ancillary employment authorisation might also be terminated before the expiration date listed on their EAD, clarified the USCIS.

According to a new study, more than 1.1 million Indians are in the queue for an employment-based Green Card and 400,000 of them may die before they receive the much-sought-after legal document of permanent residency in the US.

A Green Card, known officially as a Permanent Resident Card, is a document issued to immigrants to the US as evidence that the bearer has been granted the privilege of residing permanently. The per-country caps are numerical limits on the issuance of Green Cards to individuals from certain countries.

The employment-based Green Card backlog reached a new record of 1.8 million cases this year, according to the study by David J Bier of the Cato Institute, an American libertarian think tank. About 1.1 million of these 1.8 million cases in the backlog are from India (63 per cent); and nearly 250,000 are from China (14 per cent), as per the study.