How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Longest waits for immigrant visas: December

Source: Visa Bulletin for November 2010, U.S. Department of State

Nations with current longest waits for family-sponsored based immigrant visas: The priority dates shown are when applicants now up for processing filed their petitions.

It's well into December, which means it's time to post the longest current waits as listed in the U.S. State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin.

Immigrant visas have technically become available for those whose priority dates, i.e. the dates on which their petitions were filed, are listed in the bulletin. And this month, the hopeful immigrants who have been waiting the longest to come legally have been in line since the beginning of 1988. That's right, their petitions were filed in the eighties.

As listed in this month’s Visa Bulletin, the longest waits have been endured by:

1) Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens from the Philippines, a wait of nearly 23 years (petitions filed January 1, 1988).

2) Unmarried adult (21 and over) sons and daughters of U.S. legal permanent residents from Mexico, a wait of more than 18 years (petitions filed June 22, 1992)

3) Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens from the Philippines, a wait of more than 18 years (petitions filed July 1, 1992)

4) Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens from Mexico, a wait of nearly 18 years (petitions filed January 1, 1993)

Being on the priority date list for a green card is good news for those waiting, though the dates are subject to change and often do, meaning that some who thought their wait was over must wait longer.

It's not unusual to see waits of close to 20 years or more endured by family members abroad being sponsored for green cards by relatives in the United States. People in some countries, especially Mexico and the Philippines, have far longer waits than others.

Here’s why: Every nation is allotted the same percentage from a pool of family and employer-based visas available each year, regardless of the demand from any individual nation. For those waiting in countries represented by large immigrant populations here, making for a high demand for family reunification, the wait to enter the country legally can take a surprisingly long time.

Immigrants defined as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, i.e. spouses, parents, and children under 21, are exempt from the limits. But others, such as the adult children or siblings of U.S. citizens or legal residents, must wait in line until their priority date comes up.

The entire Visa Bulletin for December 2010 can be viewed here.

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