Indian Applicants For US Green Card Cross 1 Million

Written by

Alisha Azeem

Fact check by

Afreen Abbasi

Updated on

Jul 25,2024

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Indians have been one of the largest immigrant groups in the US. Currently, over a million Indians who applied for a green card in the US are stuck in a backlog. These figures resemble applicants who have applied for an employment-based residence permit in the US. 

The green card refers to the permanent residency status granted in the US. As of today, over one million applicants are stuck in a backlog that can potentially be a decade longer, or even more. The immigration backlog in the US has been quite high for a while, but the crossing of the 1 million mark is a record-breaking number of piled-up applications. 

Record Breaking Immigration Backlog: What We Know

A study undertaken by the National Foundation For American Policy (NFAP) found that over 1.2 million Indians, including family members and other dependents, have been in the waiting line for the top three employment-based green card categories. This data was reported by Forbes. 

The backlog crossed the 1 million mark in November 2023 and has been increasing ever since. Since the huge number of applicants encompasses the top three employment-based green card categories, it means that skilled professionals with outstanding industry knowledge, top talents in arts, education, sciences, and various other fields, researchers, professors, high-ranking executives and managers, etc are all waiting in line for a green card. They might end up waiting for over 10 years if the situation continues to escalate. 

If Congress does not intervene urgently, major escalations are bound to occur. According to a research study by the Congressional Research Service conducted in 2020, the backlog for Indians for the top three employment-based categories is expected to surpass 2.1 million applications by 2030 - a huge capacity that the US is not yet prepared to handle. 

Furthermore, the study by the National Foundation For American Policy (NFAP) calculated the estimated number of dependents who have applied via this visa pathway based on the ratio that measures the employment visa principals to dependents in the previous number of years. Thus, the study might have underestimated the number of dependents waiting in line for a green card as well. The official number of applicants could very well be more than the projected estimate. 

These developments have severely stunted the US’ ability to attract talent into the country. 

Causes Behind The Backlog

Among all the possible factors, the causes attributed to this backlog are simply narrowed down to these two reasons. 

  • The US has placed an annual cap on the number of green cards that can be issued annually. This cap stands at 140,000 for employment-based green cards. 

  • The US also has a 7 percent per-country limit for employment-based green cards. 

Apart from Indians, Chinese applicants are also facing similar backlog issues with their pending applications. The US receives a lot of applicants globally every year. Since India and China have the biggest populations in the world, there are even more applications coming from these two countries. This is largely due to the per-country limit of 7 percent, which is disproportionately disadvantaged towards countries with bigger populations. 

May Visa Bulletin: What Visas Are Being Approved This May 

Indian nationals who await their green card approvals must have applied for it before May 15, 2012- according to the Visa Bulletin. 

It is also important to remember that the dates mentioned in the Visa Bulletin often get delayed and regressions are seen often. 


The huge backlog for US immigration from India has severely impacted the prospects of any aspirants. It has disrupted the livelihood of many people who await their green card approval. It has also hindered the US’ ability to attract and retain immigrants around the world. As a result, the US is no longer a very lucrative country for the top talents around the world, due to its tedious immigration process and waiting time.

To help you know more about this immigration backlog and to know the proper procedure for applying for a Green Card, TerraTern can help you with it.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Will USCIS speed up in 2024?

Last month, USCIS announced that it has reduced its backlog for the first time in 10 years. So we can expect a backlog reduction this year.

What is the waiting time for EB2 green card processing in India?

The processing time is about 18 months, but it may take indefinitely longer for it to be processed.

How many years does it take for Indians to get a Green Card?

It may take about 5-20 years.

How many Indian citizens get US citizenship every year?

In 2023, about 59,000 Indians were granted US citizenship.

Why is India EB2 not moving?

Due to quota limitations and a disproportionate country limit, EB2 applications from India have been stagnant for quite some time.