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I receive this question a lot from non-Mexican readers of this blog, and sometimes even clients who are wrestling with the legal immigration process.
After all, immigrating should be a matter of filing out some paperwork and waiting your turn.
But what if that wait lasts a lifetime? What if you had to wait a lifetime to see your own parent, son or daughter?
The U.S. immigration system gives immediate relative status to only three relatives–spouses, parents and children under 21 of U.S. citizens. The other family members–children over 21, siblings, married children–have to wait their turn in an infamous preference system that is embodied in the chart below and moves at a snail pace:
Currently, there are four preference categories and only 480,000 family visas can be allocated to these categories per year. As you can see above, many of these categories are backlogged–the demand for visas exceeds the supply, especially for certain countries such as Mexico, China, India and the Philippines, so the State Department publishes a chart each month (Visa Bulletin) informing people that they can apply for a green card but only if they had been sponsored before the date corresponding to their category.
Even with a relative petitioning for them, many people are simply unable to immigrate legally to the United States due to long backlogs.
For example, there are only approximately 26,266 visas available each year in the F2B category for the unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents (23% of the maximum 114,200 visas allocated to the F2 category per INA 201(a)(2)).
The visa prorating provisions of Section 202(e) apply to allocations for a foreign state or dependent area when visa demand exceeds the per-country limits. As such, each country is allowed a maximum of 7 percent of the total number of visas available in the F2B category (26,266 x .07 = 1,838).
The total number of pending F2B applicants worldwide as of November 1, 2014 was 498,277, according to the Annual Immigrant Visa Waiting List Report.
The number of F2B visas available to Mexico is 1,838. The number of pending F2B applicants from Mexico is 189,123, which is 38% of the waiting list per the State Department statistics. The length of time it will take to clear up the current backlog for Mexico in this category is approximately 103 years (189,123 ÷ 1,841).
In other words, a lawful permanent resident from Mexico who files a petition today in the F2B category for their unmarried son or daughter can expect it to become current in 2118!
However, if the lawful permanent resident from Mexico becomes a U.S. citizen, the time could be shortened.
The total number of visas available in the F1 category is 23,400. The total number of pending F1 applicants worldwide as of November 1, 2014 was 314,527, according to the Annual Immigrant Visa Waiting List Report available at http://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/Statistics/Immigrant-Statistics/WaitingListItem.pdf.
Due to backlogs, the per country cap of 7 percent caps the number of F1 visas available to Mexico per year in this category to 1,638 (23,400 x .07). The number of pending F1 applicants from Mexico is 103,957. The length of time it will take to clear up the current backlog for Mexico in this category is approximately 63 years (103,957 ÷ 1,638).
Therefore, if a lawful permanent resident from Mexico becomes a U.S. citizen and then petitions for her/his unmarried son or daughter, they can expect the petition to become current 2078.
There is no viable way for many people from Mexico to immigrate legally to the U.S. in this lifetime. The legal system does not work for them. It is a sham. And while it is true that many people do come here to find work, many stay because of their family relations. A son or daughter, should not have to wait a lifetime to see her or his own parent.
What would you do if you faced a life-time away from your family?