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8.3 Million Relatives of U.S. Citizens & Legal Residents Awaited Green Cards in 2022

May 17, 2023 (1 min read)

David J. Bier, May 17, 2023

"The United States hit a new record of about 8.3 million immigrants at various stages in its family‐​sponsored permanent residence process in 2022—an increase of nearly 1 million since 2019. The staggering number of pending cases is primarily the result of outdated caps on green cards, but processing delays are also affecting a substantial number of applicants.

The U.S. immigration system’s current caps came into effect in fiscal year 1992. Figure 1 breaks down the family‐​based backlog into its two main categories: immediate relatives (“uncapped”) and family preference immigrants (“capped”) from 1992 to 2022. Immediate relatives—spouses, minor children, and parents of adult U.S. citizens—have no direct cap (though their admissions reduce the cap for the family preference (or capped) immigrants from 480,000 to 226,000). The immediate relative backlog has increased from about 73,000 in 1992 to over 1 million in 2022.

Family preference immigrants are spouses and children of legal permanent residents, adult children of U.S. citizens, and siblings of adult U.S. citizens, as well as any spouses and minor children of those relatives. Immigrants who need a cap number available to apply for a green card made up about 86 percent of the family‐​based backlog in 2022. From 1992 to 2022, the number of capped family‐​sponsored immigrants stuck in the backlog increased from about 3.3 million to about 7.1 million. The cap is set at 226,000 annually. ... [more...] ..."