Pro-business types who are always calling for more immigrants to cope with imaginary “labor shortages” won’t tell you this, but the number of green cards to be awarded to foreign workers and their dependents in this new fiscal year has been expanded by 41 percent.
Usually there are 140,000 greencards awarded each fiscal year to workers and their families in the five Employment-Based categories; this year there will be about 57,000 more of them, because in FY 2022 there was a shortfall of this size (probably created by Covid) in the use of Family-Based green cards. When there is such a downward trend in family visas they do not remain unused (which would make sense); instead, they “fall down” to the EB-categories. (And vice versa.)
All of this can be discerned by reading the fine print in the December issue of the Visa Bulletin recently published by the State Department.
These extra visas will “fall down” in an intricate manner set by law, first to:
- EB-1 “Priority Workers”;
- then to EB-2 “Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability’';
- then to EB-3 “Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers”;
- then to EB-4 a mixed bag called “Certain Special Immigrants”' and
- then to the EB-5 “Employment Creation” category, a euphemism for rich people who buy their way into the country by being immigrant investors.
Any left-overs from a short-fall of EB-5s reverts to EB-1. I am told that there are a couple of people in the State Department who really understand this process.
Now all the workers in EB-1 and EB-2 are useful additions to our population, as are most of the EB-3s. The EB-4 class includes illegal alien juveniles under court supervision, usually because of fall-outs with their (usually) illegal alien parents, as well as some religious workers; we reported on the shaky legislative status of this category recently. EB-5s are extraneous rich people. It remains to be seen how much expansion will occur in each of the various subcategories.
So we have an expansion of the number of employment based green cards, on one hand, and lay-offs in Silicon Valley reducing the numbers of H-1Bs employed on the other.
Will employers stop claiming a “need” for more workers? Don’t hold your breath.