March 01, 2022

Durbin, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Increase Number of Green Cards, Eliminating the Backlog

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families (RELIEF) Act, legislation to eliminate the family and employment green card backlog by increasing the number of green cards.  Almost four million future Americans are on the State Department’s immigrant visa waiting list, in addition to hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the U.S. who are also waiting for green cards.  However, under current law, only 226,000 family green cards and 140,000 employment green cards are available annually.  Children and spouses of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) count against these numbers, further restricting the number of available green cards. 

“America is a nation of immigrants.  But without enough green cards available annually, immigrant families are stuck in crippling backlogs for years or even decades,” Durbin said.  “The solution to this backlog is clear: increase the number of green cards.  This commonsense legislation will finally eliminate the family and employment green card backlog, fixing one of the most serious problems in our nation’s broken immigration system.”

The RELIEF Act is cosponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Alex Padilla (D-CA).

Along with eliminating the family and employment green card backlog within five years, this bill will help keep American families together by classifying spouses and children of LPRs as immediate relatives and exempting derivative beneficiaries of employment-based petitions from annual green card limits, protect “aging out” children who qualify for LPR status based on a parent’s immigration petition, and lift per-country limitations.

Specifically, the RELIEF Act will:

  • Eliminate the family and employment green card backlog within five years in the order in which applications were filed;
  • Keep American families together by classifying spouses and children of LPRs as immediate relatives and exempting derivative beneficiaries of employment-based petitions from annual green card limits;
  • Protect “aging out” children who qualify for LPR status based on a parent’s immigration petition; and
  • Lift per-country limitations.

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