How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

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

Source: Visa Bulletin for December 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.

Who had to stand in line longest this month for family-sponsored immigrant visas? As usual, the wait exceeds two decades for siblings and adult children of immigrants from Mexico and the Philippines.

The U.S. State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin for December reports that siblings of U.S. citizens from the Philippines who filed paperwork in March of 1989 are just arriving at the front of the line for visas; that makes them the ones who have waited longest.

Here are this month’s top four categories of hopeful immigrants who face the longest waits:

1) Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens from the Philippines, a wait of more than 23 years (petitions filed March 22, 1989).

2) Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens from the Philippines, a wait of more than 20 years (petitions filed August 1, 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 November 1, 1992)

4) Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens from Mexico, a wait that's getting close to 20 years (petitions filed March 1, 1993)

The line doesn't move this slowly for everyone in the family-sponsored visa category, but it does for people who hope to come from the Philippines and Mexico -  and to a lesser degree, from China and India. The reason: 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 by especially large immigrant populations here, the demand for family reunification is much higher. But those applicants are competing for the same number of available visas as people in countries in which there's far less demand. For them, the end result  is a longer - an often much longer - wait.

The bulletin displays priority dates going back to when they filed their petitions. Having one’s priority date appear in the bulletin is good news, but these dates are subject to change. When they do - often - people who thought their wait was over must keep waiting.

The described waits don’t apply to immigrants defined as “immediate” relatives of U.S. citizens - spouses, parents, and children under 21 are all exempt from the limits (although U.S.-born children of immigrants must be 21 to sponsor parents, and penalties apply if the parents entered illegally). But other family members must wait for their priority dates to come up. 

Rear the entire Visa Bulletin for December 2012 here.

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