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Family Members Received Majority of U.S. Employment-Based Green Cards in 2022

Dec 11, 2023

American IDs - SS and Green Card

Family members accounted for a significant 55% of the employment-based (EB) green cards issued in the United States in 2022, according to a new report.

The report, by the libertarian think tank the Cato Institute, found that out of the total EB green cards issued, 55% went to family members, leaving the remaining 45% for skilled workers. This distribution has persisted over recent years. Despite Congress capping EB green cards at 140,000 annually, the government issued 270,284 in 2022, drawing from unused green cards in other categories. As a result, nearly 60,000 more green cards are expected to shift from family-based to employment-based categories in 2023.

This contrasts with the global norm, where family and employment-based immigrants usually follow separate tracks. However, in the U.S., family members secure green cards from the same pool designated for skilled workers, rather than having a distinct category.

To free up more EB green cards for skilled workers, the report suggests Congress either exempt family members from the cap or create a new category for them.

Another solution could be exempting those adjusting their status from the EB green card cap. In 2022, 82% of EB green card recipients were already legally residing in the U.S., having changed their status from another visa. Excluding adjustments of status from the cap would increase the number of highly skilled workers from overseas by a factor of 4.5.

Read the full report here.

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