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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