Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Busting 'the myth of chain migration'

How long does it take to bring a relative legally to the United States? Sometimes decades, as we illustrate each month on this site in a regular feature on who has been waiting the longest.

So then, how about what critics of family sponsorship refer to as "chain migration," when the sponsored immigrant then sponsors someone new to come to the U.S.? For immigrants from some countries, try more than 40 years.

An illuminating post in Forbes titled "The Myth of Chain Migration" breaks the timeline down in a chart, using data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Used as an example is legal "chain migration" from Mexico, where hopeful immigrants endure some of the longest waits for visas. From the piece:

...a U.S. citizen filed a petition for an adult son or daughter who is a citizen of Mexico in 1992. A total of 18 years would pass until 2010, when the immigrant visa for that adult son or daughter would become available. Another year would pass to administer consular processing, security checks and interviews. Finally, in 2011, 19 years after the U.S. citizen filed the petition, the son or daughter could legally immigrate to the United States.

The example illustrated in the table assumes the spouse of the married son or daughter decided to file a petition for a sibling. That spouse would need to wait approximately 6 years to become a U.S. citizen. Then, likely in 2017, the spouse could file a petition for the sibling to immigrate. Based on current waiting wait times, it would take until about the year 2032, or another 15 years, for an immigrant visa to become available for a sibling from Mexico.

After another year for processing, then the sibling could immigrate in 2033 " 41 years after the initial application was filed for the son or daughter of the U.S. citizen.