In 2022, a substantial 55% of employment-based green cards issued in the United States were allocated to family members, as revealed by a recent report from the Cato Institute, a D.C.-based think tank.
The study found that out of the total EB green cards granted, 55% were designated for family members, leaving the remaining 45% for skilled workers. This distribution trend has been consistent in recent years. Despite a Congress-mandated cap of 140,000 EB green cards annually, the government issued 270,284 in 2022 by utilizing unused green cards from other categories. Consequently, it is anticipated that nearly 60,000 more green cards will transition from family-based to employment-based categories in 2023.
This departure from the global norm, where family and employment-based immigrants typically follow distinct paths, sets the U.S. apart. In the U.S., family members acquire green cards from the same pool earmarked for skilled workers, lacking a separate category.
To enhance the availability of EB green cards for skilled workers, the report proposes that Congress either exempt family members from the cap or establish a new category for them.
An alternative solution could involve excluding those adjusting their status from the EB green card cap. In 2022, a significant 82% of EB green card recipients were already legally residing in the U.S., having transitioned from another visa category. Exempting status adjustments from the cap would result in a 4.5-fold increase in the number of highly skilled workers from overseas.