Most Americans probably know very little about the ins and outs of immigration. While it is easy to imagine that thousands of people come to the United States illegally in order to seek a better life for themselves and their families, most U.S. citizens have never actually been through the immigration process and have no idea what kinds of difficulties or time frames are involved. But, as an increasing number of immigrants relate their individual stories, Americans are getting a better picture of just how difficult it is for some people to immigrate to the U.S. legally.
Many people would be surprised to learn that there are currently 4.2 million applications pending for legal immigration into the United States, or to stay in the U.S. legally. But, all visa applications do not have the same processing time frame. For example, U.S. resident Sergio Garcia, who lives in the United States illegally, has been waiting for 20 years – since 1994 – to get his green card. He recently made headlines as the state of California granted him the right to obtain a license to practice law after he passed the state’s bar exam.
Of the 4.2 million pending petitions for legal immigration into the U.S., approximately 375,000 will be approved in 2014. This includes 226,000 family sponsored applications and 150,000 job related applications. Applicants from Mexico and the Philippines see the longest waits for visa processing due to the large number of applicants who apply to enter the U.S from those countries. U.S. law has set the maximum number of visa entrants from any one country at 26,320 for 2014. Meanwhile there are over 1,300,000 visa applicants currently in processing from Mexico, and over 435,000 from the Philippines.
The wait for visa application processing can vary from reasonable to unbelievable. For example, those who are looking to get a visa for a foreign born adopted child may only have to wait just a few months for visa processing. On the other hand those petitioning for a visa for a foreign born sibling, or adult child, are looking at waits up to 10 or 12 years. Those who are making applications from Mexico and the Philippines may face waits of up to 20 years or more – like in the case of Garcia.
One additional fact about Mexican illegal immigrants is that they do not always fit into any visa category – effectively preventing them from “getting in line” for a visa. In other words, there is no way for them to petition if they do not have any American family members or an employer which will petition for them. They effectively find themselves in the U.S., where they have made a life for themselves, without any way to legalize their situation.
If you need help with an immigration issue, contact the Austin immigration attorney at Lyttle Law Firm. Visit our website or call us at 512-215-5225.