A proposal in President Biden’s social spending bill would make hundreds of thousands of unused green cards available for immigrants. But it faces an uncertain future under Senate rules.
As Democrats scramble to ensure that protections for millions of undocumented immigrants are included in a sprawling social-safety net package, Dr. Pranav Singh is focused on a lesser-known plan to address the green card backlog that pushed him to leave his family and job in Iowa.
After nearly a decade of treating patients with respiratory problems, Dr. Singh could no longer bear the uncertainty of living in the United States on a visa that could be revoked if there were a change in his employment.
“I’ve got 15 years in the U.S. and I’m still considered a visa holder or alien,” said Dr. Singh, who returned to India last summer after years of bureaucratic languishing. “How long can you stand that level of abuse?”
When President Biden unveiled an outline of the latest version of the social policy and climate bill on Thursday, it included an immigration provision that could help Dr. Singh and millions of other families and foreign workers, but only if it can make its way past the Senate parliamentarian, who enforces strict rules about what can be included in the package.
The proposal would free up hundreds of thousands of green cards that various administrations failed to use over several decades, making them available for immigrants who are currently caught up in the backlog.
The United States imposes caps by country on the number of green cards issued each year, which means that applicants from countries like India, where many people apply to work in the United States, end up waiting for years.
Under the new provision, those unused green cards would be “recaptured” and made available to applicants. Foreigners who have been stuck on waiting lists would also be able to pay higher fees to move up in the line for legal status.