An Update–The Line? What Line? The More Tragic Truth Emerges About Legal Immigration.

Author: on 02/04/2010



In October 2009, I wrote a blog talking about the disastrously long waiting lines for legal immigration to the United States. In Get In The Line? What Line? The Tragic Tale of Employment Based Immigrant Visa Delays, I stated that:

This delay in legal, employment based immigration is a crisis for America. If you are an intending immigrant, and your immigration option is employment based, do you have the patience the wait 15 years for your green card? Can you do better in Australia, Canada, or even back home in our home country? What is the cost to our future competitiveness of a broken legal immigration system? What is the cost to U.S. innovation?

The Department of State just released its annual numbers for cases received by the National Visa Center, awaiting issuance of an immigrant visa at a consulate. The report says this:

The following figures have been compiled from the NVC report submitted to the Department on November 3, 2009, and show the number of immigrant visa applicants on the waiting list in the various preferences and subcategories subject to numerical limit. All figures reflect persons registered under each respective numerical limitation, i.e., the totals represent not only principal applicants or petition beneficiaries, but their spouses and children entitled to derivative status under INA 203(d) as well.

Okay, the bottom line numbers? Bad, very bad. The total Family Numbers waiting for a priority date: 3,369,455, including 1,727,897 in the Brother and Sister (FB-4) category. At the 65,000 annual number level for that category, that is a 26.5 year wait (ignoring per country limits). The total Employment Numbers awaiting a priority date: 130,509, including 119,759 in the EB-3 category. This is at least a 3-4 year wait (again, ignoring per country limits). So, 3.5 million people waiting in line, or is it? The reality is worse. These do NOT include the those cases pending at USCIS!

If we ad in the numbers pending at USCIS (as best we know them), the situation is far more grave. Family based petitions pending at USCIS in June 2009 (no new numbers are easily available), were 1.1 million, bring the total backlog to 4,400,000 for family cases. Employment based cases pending at USCIS in June 2009 numbered 80,000. This bring the total up to 210,000 for EB-3 cases. Wow!

It gets worse though when you realize this simple fact. The numbers from the National Visa Center do not include cases for folks NOT consular processing. Frankly, and just just like in October when I first wrote about this, we do not really know exactly how many cases are pending immigrant visa availability. What we do know is that the legal immigration system is broken.

When we hear politicians and uninformed folks yelling about illegal immigration and telling folks to wait in line like everyone else, the answer is, What Line?

These numbers once again poignantly express the dilemma that legal immigrants have. Many feel, justifiably, that any immigration reform must FIRST focus on legal immigration reform, cutting down wait times to reasonable periods, BEFORE anyone who entered into or remained in the U.S. without permission is given ANY legal benefits. The answers are simple here, the question is, are there any politicians with enough courage to vote for real legal immigration reform?

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