“Green card recapture would reduce the years long backlog without increasing annual immigration levels.”
Green card recapture could reduce wait times for millions of families in green card backlogs
Millions of people are stuck waiting for years, even decades, to receive a green card, despite having their initial applications already approved. These green card backlogs include millions of people, sponsored by U.S. citizens and permanent residents, waiting to be reunited with their families in the U.S., as well as hundreds of thousands of individuals on employment-based visas (and their families) who have been living and working in the U.S. for years and have been sponsored by their employers for permanent residency.
One popular proposal to reduce the green card backlogs is to “recapture” and make available green cards that had been authorized in previous years but were ultimately never issued.1 This would reduce the years long backlogs without increasing annual immigration levels. While it’s not a perfect long-term solution—Congress must ultimately reform outdated policies andincrease annual immigration to meet the country’s economic and demographic needs—recapturing green cards would at least put a dent in the backlogs and provide relief to some families stuck waiting.
For more background on why green cards go unissued, read our explainer here.