How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Immigrant visa backlogs: How will reform plans address long waits?

Source: Visa Bulletin for February 2013, 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.

The immigration reform plans President Obama and the U.S. Senate proposed this week would change the way this country legally admits immigrants and workers. And that means tackling the problem of visa backlogs.

The process for entering the United States via the family-sponsored visa category is onerous to applicants - especially to would-be immigrants from certain countries. In the family-sponsored category, the Philippines consistently tops the list for the nation in which immigrants sponsored by siblings and other relatives must wait longest to enter the United States. It's not unusual for them to wait two decades or more.

Mexico runs a close second. While the waits aren't quite as bad for immigrants from China and India, they are still excruciatingly long. Same goes for other hopeful immigrants, particularly those from Asian countries; of the top eight nations with the most people on waiting lists to enter the U.S., six of these are Asian countries.

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

Source: Visa Bulletin for January 2013, 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 a brand new year, but the wait for family-sponsored immigrant visas is about where we left it a month ago. As usual, brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens from the Philippines are enduring the longest waits, followed by these citizens' adult married sons and daughters. Hopeful immigrants from Mexico follow in line.

The line doesn't budge much month to month, so how about year by year? For kicks, let's compare a few numbers from U.S. State Department's January 2013 visa bulletin with a similar list we published two years ago, from January 2011.

As of January 2013, here's who's waiting longest for visas:

1) Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens from the Philippines, a wait of more than 23 years (petitions filed April 15, 1989).

2) Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens from the Philippines, a wait of more than 20 years (petitions filed August 8, 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 22, 1992)

4) Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens from Mexico, a wait approaching  20 years (petitions filed March 8, 1993)

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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)

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

Source: Visa Bulletin for October 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.

October is underway, meaning it's time to see who has had the longest wait for a family-sponsored immigrant visa this month. Twenty years, twenty three years? The line doesn't budge much, at least not for hopeful immigrants in certain categories, from certain countries.

We skipped a month, but the composition of the line is more or less the same: Those waiting longest are the siblings and adult children of U.S. citizens from the Philippines, followed by hopeful immigrants from Mexico. And many of those whose turn has come up this month filed paperwork more than two decades ago.

Here are the four top categories with the longest waits, according to the U.S. State Department's monthly Visa Bulletin for October:

1) Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens from the Philippines, a wait of more than 23 years (petitions filed February 8, 1989).

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Children of immigrants who 'aged out' of visas can get their place back in line

The now-adult children of immigrant parents who "aged out" of obtaining derivative visas while their parents waited for green cards can get their place back in line, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The decision in the class-action lawsuit against U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and other federal officials is a victory for thousands of young people who lost their priority status for family-sponsored visas upon turning 21, as their parents faced long waits due to backlogs in the immigration system. 

When this happens, these former minor children of immigrants are no longer eligible to derive green cards through their parents, and must start over to seek one on their own. 

The lawsuit argued that several plaintiffs were eligible to retain their priority date for receiving a green card under the Child Status Protection Act of 2002. The plaintiffs had been denied this request by the agency and the Board of Immigration Appeals, however, which interpreted the law differently.

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