How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Who had the longest wait for an immigrant visa this month?

Source: Visa Bulletin for November 2012, 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 petitions.

It's time for another look at the wait times for family-sponsored visas;  in some cases they can exceed 20 years. As it tends to go, the line hasn't budged much in the last month. The U.S. State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin for November reports that siblings of U.S. citizens from the Philippines continue to have the longest waits, with people who filed paperwork 23 years ago just now getting to the front of the line.

Here are this month’s top four categories of immigrants facing the longest wait for a visa:

1) Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens from the Philippines, a wait of more than 23 years (petitions filed March 1, 1989).

2) Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens from the Philippines, a wait of more than 20 years (petitions filed July 22, 1992)

3) Unmarried adult (21 and over) sons and daughters of U.S. legal permanent residents from Mexico, a wait of more than 20 years (petitions filed October 15, 1992)

4) Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens from Mexico, a wait that's getting close to 20 years (petitions filed February 15, 1993)

The waits for nationals of the Philippines and Mexico, and to a lesser degree China and India, are especially long. The United States allows every country the same percentage of visas from a pool of family and employer-based visas available each year, regardless of demand from any individual nation. For countries represented in the U.S. by especially large immigrant populations, there's an especially high demand for family reunification. Hopeful immigrants from these countries compete for the same number of available visas as people in countries in which there's far less demand, meaning they have to wait much longer.  What the bulletin displays are priority dates - the dates on which petitions were filed, as visas technically become available to those in line. Having one’s priority date appear in the bulletin is good news. But the dates are subject to change, and they do. When this happens, people who thought they'd reached the front of the line must keep waiting. These waits don’t apply to immigrants defined as “immediate” relatives of U.S. citizens, such as spouses, parents, and children under 21, all exempt from the limits (although U.S.-born children of immigrants must be 21 to sponsor their parents, and penalties apply if the parents entered illegally). Other family members must wait until their priority date comes up. You can see the entire Visa Bulletin for November 2012 here.
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