The State Department has released a report showing the increasing number of people with approved immigrant visa petitions at the National Visa Center who are waiting for their visa numbers to be current.
The number is about three and one-half million. Given that our immigration laws permit only 376,000 people to immigrate to the U.S. each year under the family-based and employment-based preference systems, the average wait is over ten years long. There are probably another million people residing in the U.S. with approved visa petitions. They are waiting to adjust their status and their numbers are not reflected in the State Department report.
Over 95% of the people on the waiting list are in the family-sponsored categories and more than half of these are in the brother-sister fourth preference category. Over 100,000 people from each of the following countries are waiting in the FB-4 line: Mexico, Philippines, China, India and Vietnam. Yet, the worldwide quota is only 65,000 per year. Since the backlogs average between 10 and 22 years, more children are born abroad each year to the beneficiaries of these visa petitions which further increases the backlogs.
In the EB-3 category for professional and skilled workers, the countries with the largest backlogs are the Philippines (45,331 - Mostly nurses and their families?) and India (20,467 - Mostly computer professionals and their families?). Should U.S. employers have to wait over seven years to immigrate a foreign-born employee?
I am all for comprehensive immigration reform. However, this may prove politically impossible in an election year. First Congress needs to reform a broken legal immigration system which punishes people who play by the rules.
Carl Shusterman is the managing attorney of Law Offices of Carl Shusterman based in Los Angeles, CA. He has specialized in immigration law for over 30 years and his six-attorney law firm represents clients in all 50 states. Mr. Shusterman is a 1973 graduate of the UCLA School of Law. He served as an attorney for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) until 1982 when he entered private practice. He is authorized to practice before the Supreme Court of California, the Federal District Court in the Central District of California, the U.S. Court of Appeals in a number of different circuits and the Supreme Court of the United States. Mr. Shusterman is a former chairman of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Southern California Chapter and served as a member of AILA's National Board of Governors (1988-97). He has chaired numerous AILA Committees, spoken at dozens of AILA Conferences and has contributed a number of scholarly articles to AILA's publications. Mr. Shusterman is a Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law, State Bar of California. He has served as a member of the Immigration and Nationality Law Advisory Commission for the State Bar. He has been named as one of Best Attorneys in America and as a SuperLawyer for many years. He is a frequent writer and lecturer on immigration law. Mr. Shusterman has testified as an expert witness before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration in Washington, D.C. His website, www.shusterman.com, receives over 1,000,000 hits each week, and his free, e-mail newsletter has almost 60,000 subscribers in more than 150 countries.
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