Are Visa Backlogs threatening the U.S. Economy?

Are Visa Backlogs threatening the U.S. Economy?

Did you know the backlog for skilled immigrants tops over a million in the U.S? Delayed work permits soared after embassies shut down due to the pandemic, affecting the U.S economy in many ways.

The backlog of cases has made many immigrants lose their jobs. And created uncertainty for individuals awaiting the decision of their pending immigration affairs.

There hasn’t been a clear governmental response making the situation even worse. Moreover, the uncertainty has made employers rely less on the economy and more on overseas work.

The damage isn’t limited to immigrants. Actually, it has also affected the wait time for interviews, student visa applications, and even green card applications.

Major Highlights

  • Student Visa Interview Appointment – As of July 2022, the average wait time for interview appointments is 49 days. This is alarming when you have an average of 10 days’ time pre-Covid.
  • The processing time varies from country to country regarding student visas. While some embassies and consulates take years to book interviews, others offer appointments within weeks.
  • The situation is even worse if you’re applying for a green card. There were already a few changes in 2016, making 16 months a standard time frame to get a green card. After the pandemic, expect a year more than the original time frame. Moreover, this delay has nothing to do with the yearly slots available. So if the annual limit is over, you need to wait a little more to get your application heard.

U.S. Visa Processing Delays Considered Worst Since 9/11

Although wait times vary for every consulate and embassy, immigration experts have considered it worst than 9/11.

The 2001 terrorist attack affected the visa application, but it took only three to four weeks to complete the cases. However, it’s still eight months wait for applications/interviews. With over a million visas backlogged for immigrants after two years since the pandemic began.

The waiting numbers are mind-boggling. As of July 2022, the following countries will observe the most extended delay for student visa interviews.

  • Dhaka – 551 days
  • Abu Dhabi – 310 days
  • Istanbul – 428 days

While for some countries, it’s even below pre-pandemic averages.

  • Beijing – 2 days
  • Ho Chi Minh City – 6 days
  • Bangkok – 7 days

The Effect on U.S. Economy

The visa backlog has put the U.S. government at risk of wasting over 100,000 employment-based green cards in 2022. The pandemic made embassies and consulates shut their business for years, so don’t expect the backlog to reduce in months. This will create history as America has never suffered such a severe backlog.

The situation is even worse for people waiting before the pandemic, especially Indians in the tech industry. The impact is huge, forcing American employers to consider outsourcing work overseas. They are not relying on the U.S economy, which requires consideration from American legislators on both sides.

The impact of visa backlogs on the labor, environment, population, and administration are detailed in the chart below

Employment Industry         U.S. Residents Remote Work by Overseas Work by Non-Citizen
Labor No changes More jobs lost in the U.S More jobs lost in the U.S
Environmental Changes No further damage recorded No further damage recorded More people than usual are using infrastructure
Population No change No change More people in the U.S
Administration No additional cost to the government or employers No additional cost to the government or employers Additional costs for the government and employers
Summaries Four advantages Three advantages, one disadvantage Four disadvantages

Reducing Visa Backlogs

The U.S economy has suffered a lot ever since the breakout of COVID-19. In fact, the effects of the pandemic are vast. From people losing their jobs and damaging businesses to the state department facing severe backlash due to millions of unprocessed applications.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is working to establish new internal cycle time goals to reduce visa backlogs. However, these will be internal metrics but will help to reduce the backlog efficiently. Plus, as the cycle improves, there will be no more processing delays. Thus, applicants and immigrants will receive a decision on their pending cases.

The entire process will take USCIS to make significant changes concerning increasing capacity. As well as, improving technology and expanding staff to attain the goal in a limited period. Which is expected to be the end of FY 2023.

Get Help From Immigration Lawyer

Following the pandemic, many changes are happening in immigration rules and regulations. So, if you are looking for business or career opportunities in the U.S. And want to recruit top talent from around the world. Or set up businesses abroad, consider taking help from immigration lawyers to help navigate the immigration process in light of the current situation.

It would help if you knew the process and how to go about it. Not having the proper documentation can lead to a visa application being denied or a delay of up to six months or more. Given there’s already much delay. But, to avoid this problem, ensure you have a detailed checklist of the documentation needed. Or help from an immigration advice service.

Lastly, if you have any questions or concerns regarding visa backlogs, contact Spirit One, your legal resource for immigration law, and more. Find out more about Spirit One here.

Written by SpiritOne

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