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Letter to Ombudsman Regarding Employment Based Green Card Wastage

As you may know, there is a distinct possibility that USCIS will be unable to complete enough green card applications by September 30, 2021 to fully utilize all of the available immigrant visa numbers. If this happens, thousands of employment-based immigrant visa numbers will go to waste, even though there are thousands of available applicants waiting in line.

It is important that you alert the USCIS Ombudsman about this issue.  A letter sharing your personal story will have a greater chance of motivating your representative to put pressure on USCIS to fix this issue in time. Below you will find a template for a letter (email) you can personalize and send to


Dear CIS Ombudsman Phyllis Coven,

My name is _____________, and I am writing this letter to urge you to encourage USCIS to fix their processing times for Employment-Based Form I-485 applications. These processing delays not only keep me from realizing the American Dream, but more importantly, they will cause thousands of Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Numbers to be wasted.

Congress set the annual worldwide level for employment-based preference immigrants of at least 140,000 in Section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. In FY 2021, when the annual limit is expected to be approximately 261,500, an all-time high, USCIS has failed to take steps to maximize number use. Simply put, the agency is not processing pending applications fast enough. There are thousands of applications for adjustment of status pending with USCIS. To utilize all available immigrant visas authorized by Congress, USCIS must complete the adjudication of 261,500 applications by September 30, 2021. USCIS is expected to have an extra 150,000 green cards to be spilled over for Fiscal year 2022, hence there will be approximately 290,000 employment based green cards available to be adjudicated in Fiscal Year 2022. USCIS Office of Policy and Strategy is fully aware of the time constraint, yet Employment-Based adjustment applications:

are taking 11 to 17 months to adjudicate at the Nebraska Service Center; and

are taking 27 to 62.5 months to adjudicate at the Texas Service Center.

At these rates, three to four years’ worth of immigrant visas will be wasted while we wait upon USCIS to act on its pending applications. Congress should not stand for such a waste of government resources.

Therefore, in order to prevent the wastage of green cards, I urge you to encourage USCIS to consider the following policies so that USCIS can eliminate backlogs and resume normal processing while creating US jobs:

  • Increase resources on AOS adjudications so that USCIS does not have to adjudicate EADs/APs
  • Increase resources on AOS adjudications so that USCIS does not need to adjudicate more H-1B, H-4, H-4 EAD, L-1, L-1B, L-2 and L-2 EAD as they are redundant once the AOS is adjudicated  
  • Waive the interview process for more AOS applicants to reduce time of adjudication
  • Stop sending RFE’s for medical exams. USCIS should approve the I-485 with a notice that they must still submit the medicals at a later date or face revocation. There is not a statutory requirement to have evidence of the medical examination in advance of an approval. 
  • Reuse previously submitted biometrics for I-485s. USCIS should either reuse previously submitted biometrics or temporarily waive the biometrics requirement for I-485 applicants. Every I-485 applicant has given their biometrics to a government Agency at least twice, once at the consulate and once at the port of entry. USCIS has the technological ability to reuse these biometrics. In the age of COVID hampering the ability of the ASCs to timely process applications, USCIS should utilize the technological resources at its disposal in order to avoid the wastage of green cards.
  • Stop re-adjudicating EB-2 to EB-2 I-140 downgrades. According to USCIS, it takes 87.6 minutes to adjudicate an I-140 petition. That’s nearly 90 percent of the time it takes to process an I-485. USCIS doesn’t report how many I-140s are refiled EB2-to-EB3 “port” cases, but supposing they are 20 percent of the cases this year, getting rid of these unnecessary adjudications could free up adjudicator time for as many as 20,000 additional green cards annually.
  • Stop requiring and reviewing the Supplement J. Nothing in the law requires the Supplement J whatsoever, and it could be easily removed. The reverification of job offer is an unnecessary burden on employer and applicant, and because it is a 7-page form nearly as long as the 9-page I-140 adds to the adjudication processing times for the same reasons stated above. At a minimum, USCIS should simply revert to the earlier requirement to submit a letter from the employer.
  • Allow travel/work authorization based on I-485 receipt to free up resources for final green card adjudications. USCIS should simply allow proof of a pending I-485 as evidence of advance parole and work authorization.  

I am a _____job title_____ and have been living and working in the United States pursuant to a temporary work visa since ____date____. My family has been able to move to the United States and live with me as my dependent(s) by maintaining ____H-4/L-2____ visa status. I have correctly followed all required steps to apply for a green card and have waited _____years for an immigrant visa to be available based on my category and country of birth. Now that 261,500 immigrant visas are available, I was finally eligible to apply for adjustment of status, only to be stuck waiting endlessly for my application to be processed.

I want to contribute to this country. My work in the field of ___________helps _______describe the importance of your work to the US economy or society _______. I have done my best to comply with all the immigration rules of this country. I have been through ____ # of H-1B (or F-1, OPT, L-1, H-4, etc) ______ visa renewals over the years. Every time I want to travel to my home country, I have gone through a visa interview at a U.S. Consulate. The Department of Labor has already confirmed that my presence in the United States does not harm U.S. workers.

The United States deserves an immigration system that reflects our highest values as a nation and operates efficiently and effectively within the limits set forth by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Please help ensure my family can adjust status without lengthy delays and unnecessary procedures and without wasting available immigrant visa numbers. I urge you to hold USCIS accountable for its processing times and ensure that no immigrant visa you have authorized to be used goes to waste. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.