What is Chain Migration?
First, let’s call chain migration what it really is: family-based immigration.
Family-based immigration enables U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents to bring certain family members to the United States with Immigrant Visas. Upon entering the United States with an Immigrant Visa, the family member receives permanent resident status and a green card, allowing the family member to legally reside and work in this country. Family-based immigration is a form of family reunification, and it adds to the broad diversity of our country.
There are two types of Immigrant Visas: Immediate Relatives and Family Preference.
Immediate Relative applications can only be filed by U.S. Citizens for parents, spouses, and unmarried children under age 21. Although the process from start to finish can take 9-12 months, it is a much quicker process than Family Preference applications.
Family Preference applications are broken down into five categories. Each category is limited, meaning there is a cap for the number of visas issued yearly. The categories are as follows:
F1: U.S. Citizens applying for Unmarried Children over age 21
F2A: Permanent Residents applying for Spouses and Children under age 21
F2B: Permanent Residents applying for Unmarried Children over age 21
F3: U.S. Citizens applying for Married Children
F4: U.S. Citizens applying for Adult Siblings
Now, because these five categories are limited, there are significant wait times between the initial application submitted by the U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident and the issuance of the Immigrant Visa to the family member. As of January 2018, the estimated wait times for the five categories are:
F1: 7 years
F2A: 2 years
F2B: 7 years
F3: 12 years
F4: 13 years
(Note: Family Preference applicants from China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines may have varied wait times. The best reference for current processing dates is the U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin.)
When U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents see the long wait times for a Family Preference application, they often feel discouraged. Some give up on the process before ever starting, but until the process is started with the filing of an I-130 Petition, the immigrant family member is not in line for a visa.
Chain migration has been a topic in the news lately, largely because President Trump is calling for it to end. Whether his administration will be able to accomplish that is yet to be seen.
While family-based immigration is still available, it is important that any U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident thinking about applying for a family member get the process started. Caruso Law Group offers a free consultation for anyone interested in helping a family member immigrate to the United States. We have assisted hundreds of families get through the process successfully.
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