José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: La Red Hispana

Patience is one of the greatest attributes for those who have had to carry out procedures to legally immigrate to the United States. However, a new analysis by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) suggests that for many people it would take more than a lifetime to complete their dream of legally immigrating to the United States.

What are we talking about? About 3.9 million people of all nationalities are currently on waiting lists to legally immigrate to the United States for family reasons, according to a list updated in November by the State Department.

Mexico tops the list with more than 1.2 million people, followed by the Philippines with 318,000, India with 309,000, China with 247,000, Vietnam with 207,000, the Dominican Republic with 212,000, Bangladesh with 178,000, Pakistan with 121,000, Haiti with 104,000 and Cuba with 78,000 people.

But the procedures for these almost 4 million people are progressing slowly. For fiscal year 2021, which began on October 1 and ends on September 30, the limit per country will be 34,160 people.

All of the above means that, under certain visa categories, for US citizens who want to sponsor a married adult child from Mexico, the wait is around 157 years. For people who want to emigrate from the Philippines, the wait is a little shorter, only 67 years.

The Trump administration has worked hard over the past four years to transform America’s immigration system to give family reunification a lower priority and prioritize the arrival of highly educated immigrants. Although the Biden administration has a more humanitarian approach, the rules of legal migration remain the same.

The MPI is correct when it suggests that legal migration to the United States through family sponsorship should remain a higher priority of the United States selection system, since it supports the stability of communities and families, and safeguards the fundamental value of the family unit.

Fortunately, the numerical ceiling for family sponsored migration does not apply to US citizens who wish to bring their children under the age of 21 or their parents. But that benefit must be applied on a fixed basis to the relatives of legal permanent residents with no annual fees.

In other words, it is necessary to make a sensible change to the system of selection of visas under family sponsorship, otherwise, the promise of opening legal avenues to emigrate to the United States will continue to be for many symbolic rather than a reality, which in turn could people push to seek other avenues for the dream of family reunification.

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