US Official Explains Reasons for Lengthy Green Card Wait Time

A senior US official explains the reasons behind the extended waiting period for Green Cards, particularly affecting individuals from India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines. Discover how the country-based quota system and Congressional constraints contribute to the prolonged delays, limiting the number of Green Cards available each year.

A senior official from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) shed light on the reasons behind the extensive waiting period for Green Cards, particularly affecting individuals from India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines.

In a virtual town hall organized by the State Department, Douglas Rand, the Senior Advisor to the USCIS Director, explained that the lengthy delays were primarily due to the country-based quota system, which can only be altered by the US Congress.

Quota System and Congressional Limits

Douglas Rand, the Senior Advisor to the USCIS Director, revealed that the long and agonizing wait for Green Cards for people from India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines is mainly due to the country-based quota system in its allocation which can be changed only by the US Congress.

He further elaborated that the annual limit established by Congress on family-sponsored preference Green Cards is 2,26,000 for the whole world while the annual limit on employment-based Green Cards is 1,40,000.


On top of that, the per-country limit is set at seven per cent of the total annual family-sponsored and employment-based preference limits.

Implications for Applicants

Individuals from India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines typically face such long wait times than people from other countries due to the restricted allocation. Rand explained that the demand for Green Cards exceeds the limited availability of 25,620 per country, causing significant delays for applicants.

Despite the demand for a higher number of Green Cards, only Congress has the power to change the annual limits, placing applicants in a prolonged waiting period.

Also Read: US Mission in India Hits Milestone with Half a Million Visa Applications Processed


Retrogression and Visa Bulletin

To manage Visa utilization within the annual limits and category-specific thresholds, the State Department employs a cut-off date system in the Visa bulletin. This ensures that Visa use remains within the established boundaries.

Rand clarified that retrogression occurs when the high demand for visas exceeds the statutory limits, leading to unavailability for non-citizens who have filed applications for adjustment of status or permanent residency.

Benefits During Retrogression

Although retrogression poses challenges, Rand highlighted certain benefits that applicants can still pursue during this period. Applicants can apply for employment authorization not tied to a particular employer and obtain advanced parole for international travel.

Additionally, after their adjustment of status application has been pending for 180 days or more, applicants can transfer their job opportunity to a new employer. Depending on the circumstances, children who have applied for adjustment of status might not age out.


During the application process, individuals are generally considered to be in a period of authorized stay.

Efforts to Improve Data and Inventory Reports

Rand emphasized the US government’s commitment to improving the accuracy and comprehensiveness of its data on employment-based adjustment of status applications. He stated that their goal is to resume publishing regular inventory reports, ensuring transparency and accountability in the system.

(Source: PTI News, edited by travelobiz staff)

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Manish Khandelwal
Manish Khandelwal

Manish Khandelwal, a travel-tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the travel industry. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of, he's passionate about writing.

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