Written for and originally Posted at Forbes
A common criticism of the U.S. immigration system is it tilts toward family admissions. This criticism rests, in part, on the mistaken notion that any close relations sponsored by U.S. citizens come to America quickly as permanent residents. However the wait times for sponsoring a close family member are long and, in some cases, extremely long. (See this recent report from the National Foundation for American Policy.)
For example, due to the annual limits the State Department is only processing applications for siblings from the Philippines filed prior to August 1988, according to the department’s Visa Bulletin. In other words, American citizens with brothers or sisters in the Philippines who filed while Ronald Reagan was still president and before the Berlin Wall fell are still waiting for their relatives to join them.
One argument made for eliminating family immigration categories is that doing so would reduce something called “chain migration.” However, reasonable analysis shows that “chain migration” is a contrived term that seeks to put a negative light on a phenomenon that has taken place throughout the history of the country – some family members come to America and succeed, and then sponsor other family members.
Table 1: The Myth of Chain Migration: 41 Years Between Application for First Immigrant and Entry of Second Immigrant
|ACTION||YEAR OCCURRED||YEARS ELAPSED|
|U.S. Citizen Files a Petition for Adult Married Son or Daughter Who is a Citizen of Mexico||1992|
|Immigrant Visa Becomes Available||2010||18 years|
|Administer Consular Processing, Security Checks, and Interviews||2011||1 year|
|The Spouse of the New Immigrant Waits 5 Years and Applies to Become A Citizen||2016||5 years|
|Completes Naturalization Process||2017||1 year|
|Now a U.S. Citizen, the Spouse of the Former Adult Married Son or Daughter from Mexico Files a Petition for a Brother||2017||0 year|
|Immigrant Visa Becomes Available||2032||15 years|
|Administer Consular Processing, Security Checks, and Interviews and the “Chain” Relative Enters||2033||1 year|
|Total Time Between the Application of the First Immigrant and the Entry of the Second immigrant in the “Chain”||41 years|
Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, U.S. Department of State.