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The United States is experiencing a labor shortage unprecedented in its history. Over the summer, 10 million jobs remained unfilled, a record high and much above the norm. Businesses are cutting hours, closing, raising prices, and reducing services as a result of scarcity. The United States is losing ground, but advocates believe there may be a simple solution: legal immigrants.

Can Adjusting Limits On Sponsored Immigrants Help with Labor Shortage?

While job vacancies are on the rise, the backlog of eligible immigrants waiting for lawful permanent residency in the United States reached a new high: over 9 million, with the majority of them waiting in other countries. Most of these immigrants are eligible for lawful permanent residency and have a family member or employer who may sponsor them.

The issue is that they are being forced to wait because of administrative and procedural delays or a lack of room due to annual legal immigration limitation limits. The delays are due to antiquated bureaucratic methods, such as a paper-only filing system and a ban on web-based interviewing, as well as unclear pandemic protocols, which have reduced the capacity of most US consulates.

The main issue is that Congress has set very low limits on the number of families and employer-sponsored immigrants, which were last adjusted in 1990, more than three decades ago. The total number of immigrants sponsored by family and employers is limited to 366,000 per year. In just one month in 2021, there were more than 30 times as many job vacancies.

This 30-year moratorium on cap hikes is absurd. Since 1990, the US economy has more than doubled, adding 35 million new families. The family and employment-based immigration limitations should have adjusted to keep up, but they haven’t, and the government is wasting tens of thousands of the limited cap slots this year as well due to administrative delays.

The Way Forward

The remedy is simple: Congress should alter the arbitrary caps on eligible legal immigrants. It should require the executive branch to implement streamlined procedures for processing these applications in order to ensure that workers may enter the US in time to satisfy the needs of their employers.

For more information regarding the immigration cap, contact an immigration lawyer at (818)900.

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