While the visa bulletin fakeout has been a major focus of everyone's attention, let's not forget that the same mismanagement resulted in the waste of hundreds of thousands of immigrant visas (green cards) that could have been used over past years. Those visas are lost forever, and without special legislation will stay that way. The wasted immigrant visas are the reason the backlogs are so bad in the first place. Every single person impacted by the October 2015 Visa Bulletin Fakeout would have already received a green card by now if the 326,000 visas were not wasted in past years. While desperate immigrants scramble for a few thousand visas each year, remember the wasted visas, and how the government has failed time and again to protect against it.
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"A surprising contributing factor to the employment-based green card backlog is unused visas from prior years. Between FY 1992 and FY 2006, more than 506,000 employment-based immigrant visas went unused, as illustrated in the Appendix.10 Administrative issues within the federal government, particularly prior to FY 2005, prevented the U.S. immigration system from distributing all of the employment-based green cards available under the law. The State Department reports that 180,039 of the 506,410 unused employment visas have been recaptured by special legislation.11 That leaves more than 300,000 never utilized." see page 8.
Extensive look into the per country limits and history
"In order to reduce visa backlogs, the bill calls for the recapture of unused EB visas for fiscal years 1992 through 2013, to be used beginning in FY 2016. Going forward, it calls on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State to ensure that every EB visa authorized to be used within a fiscal year is issued to a qualified applicant. Any unused EB visas would roll over to the following fiscal year. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), over 500,000 EB visas were unused between FY 1992 and FY 2009, 180,000 of which were recaptured by previous legislation."
"Coordination between the agencies is improving, but remains a challenge." See Chart of Wasted Visas on Page 53 of the PDF report.
Wall Street Journal Graphic on Visa Wait Times over two decades
For background on the visa bulletin fakeout, see the last post and podcast.