Green Card Numbers Rebound to Pre-Covid Levels, Finds New Study


Roughly 282,000 people were issued green cards between June and September 2021, compared to 79,000 in mid-2020

Apr 6, 2022


A U.S. immigrant wears a mask to guard agains the coronavirus.

The number of green cards issued to new immigrants last year rebounded to pre-Covid levels, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

The report, which analyzed recent government data, found that the number of green cards issued to people applying from within the United States, through a process known as adjustment of status, returned to pre-pandemic totals, while the number of green cards granted to those applying from outside the country also increased, but failed to reach earlier totals.

Roughly 282,000 people were issued green cards between June and September last year, the highest number since mid-2017, according to quarterly data from the Office for Immigration Statistics. During the height of the pandemic in mid-2020, green card numbers fell to 79,000.

Green card numbers increase post-pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic led to the shutdown of U.S. consulates and embassies around the world, bringing immigrant visa services to a near standstill. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was already struggling to clear an enormous backlog of green card applications, a bottleneck that was further exacerbated by the outbreak.

According to the new report, green card applicants filing from abroad were the hardest hit during the pandemic — around 19,000 green cards were issued to new arrivals to the U.S., compared to a quarterly average of 134,000 since 2015. In the final quarter of 2021, between June and September, roughly 105,000 green cards were granted to overseas applicants — about 78% of the pre-pandemic quarterly average.

Green card applicants already in the United States on temporary visas fared slightly better — around 60,000 green cards were issued to these immigrants, compared to the quarterly average of 141,000 since 2016. In the last quarter of 2021, that number had increased to 177,000, the highest number of green cards granted since 2016.

For more data and analysis, check out the full report here.


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