Why it’s not as easy “get in line”

By Armando Bellmas

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The notion that it is easy for people to legally immigrate to the United States if they are willing to “get in line” is an often mistaken and misinformed idea. The reality is that our immigration system is an extremely complex and confusing set of laws, and it may take more than 20 years to legally enter the U.S.

Here are the numbers.

20
Minimum number of years the adult son or daughter of a U.S. citizen from Mexico must wait before he or she can get a visa to live in the U.S. *

23
Minimum number of years the brother or sister of a U.S. citizen from the Philippines must wait before he or she can get a visa to live in the U.S. *

3
Number of times in the last 6 years the line to wait for a visa has actually  moved backwards. In 2 of these years, the line moved back by 4 years. *

0
Number of family-based preference categories that are not experiencing major backlogs due to the numerical limitations on immigrant visas. *

7%
The annual cap on visas available for immigrants coming from any single country, which means visas issued  to any single country per year may not exceed this figure. *

140,000
Number of employment-based immigrant visas available per year to all U.S. employers, subject to the 7% per-country cap, or no more than 9,800 visas per any single country. *

10,000
Total number of visas available per year to all U.S. employers who want to bring “low-skilled” immigrant workers into the U.S. to live. *

7.5
Minimum number of years, on average, a “low-skilled” immigrant worker must wait to get a visa before they can come to the U.S., due to numerical limitations. *

0
Number of U.S. citizen children under 21 years of age who can apply for an immigrant visa for their parents or siblings. *

5
Number of years before an immigrant with lawful permanent residence (commonly called a “green card”) can receive public benefits. *

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