The fact that waits are getting longer for EB-3s for Indians is not exactly news anymore. But the 70 year estimate calculated by the National Foundation for American Policy is absolutely shocking. The 7% per country quotas for Indian and Chinese EB-3 applicants are the reason for the super long waits. According to NFAP:
The majority of employer-sponsored immigrants tend to be from India and China, but the wait times are longest for such foreign nationals because of the per country limit, which restricts the number of green cards awarded to any one country to 7 percent of a preference category. By establishing that fewer than 3,000 Indians are permitted green cards annually in the employment-based third preference (EB-3) and estimating a backlog of 210,000 among Indian professionals in the category, the report is able to conclude an Indian sponsored today could wait 70 years for a green card. The report concludes that even if the backlog of Indians in EB-3 were half as large, the wait time would still exceed 30 years for Indians sponsored today in the category.
A Chinese immigrant sponsored today in the EB-3 category could wait two decades. Immigrants from other countries would likely wait 5 years or more. In the EB-2 (second preference) category the wait times are 6 to 8 years for a newly sponsored Indian or Chinese immigrant, but there is no wait for those from other countries.
“It is not in our interests to have the most important characteristic of an immigrant to America be the ability to wait a long time,” said Stuart Anderson, author of the two reports. Anderson is NFAP’s executive director and served as head of policy and counselor to the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service from August 2001 to January 2003. “Absent action by Congress the situation will grow worse, creating great hardship and weakening the competitiveness of U.S. companies.”
The long waits for employment-based green cards are caused by two primary factors: 1) the 140,000 annual quota is too low and 2) the per country limit, which restricts the number of green cards available to skilled immigrants from one country to 7 percent of the total. Due to the per country limit, skilled foreign nationals from India and China, who generally make up most of the applicants, wait years longer than nationals of other countries.
The issue of wait times for employment-based immigrant visas is vital because when employers recruit at U.S. universities they generally find one-half to two-thirds of the graduates in science, math and engineering fields are foreign nationals. “Failure to retain these talented individuals in the United States means they will go to work for international companies in other countries or U.S. businesses will need to place them abroad, pushing more work outside the United States,” said Stuart Anderson. “An ability to offer a prized employee a realistic chance of staying in America as a permanent resident can be crucial to retaining that individual.” In addition to the high proportion of foreign nationals graduating in key fields from U.S. universities, individual achievers make an important impact on the economy.