Four years ago, I wrote about the “Line” that determines how long it takes to immigrate to the United States. The “line” was long then, and is longer now, with more than four million people waiting for an immigrant visa to become ready for them to immigrate to the United States. There is a good number of these more than four million people already in the United States, either working under valid visas, or as undocumented members of our society.
An example is appropriate We know from a recent meeting with the Department of States that there are approximately 44,000 EB-3 India cases with priority dates prior to August 2007. Right now, the priority date (the date people who filed on that date can now apply for permanent residence) for India is November 22, 2002. Available visas count both the principal applicant (the person who’s job it is), PLUS each family member. Hypothetically and because of “per-country limits,” that means that if there are 3,000 EB-3 immigrant visas available each year to Indian nationals in this category, then only 1,000 to 1,500 actual families will get permanent residence, because 45% of visas are used by the principals, and 55% are used by their family members.
There are of course, more immigrant visas available in the India EB-3 category every year, because of flow down (and flow up) from other categories, but not many. If you extrapolate these numbers, you come up with the conclusion that a person who files in February 2013 for an EB-3 India immigrant visa, with no change in the law, will have to wait more than 80 years to obtain permanent residence under a worst case scenario (but perhaps only 35 years under a best case scenario). This goes to the main point, which is there is no real line. 80 (or even 35) years is a lifetime, not a line. “Lines” like this actually cause undocumented immigration.
The good news is that there is a bill pending in Congress that will make this “line” into a useful piece of immigration management. Senate Bill S.169, sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and named the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013, adds immigrant visa numbers, does not count family members towards the actual visa limit, fixes the legal employment non-immigrant visa categories, eliminates per country quotas, and reduces overall wait times to manageable levels. This bill will certainly be part of any overall immigration reform that is passed, and more importantly can stand on its own if Congress is unable to pass a comprehensive immigration reform package. But we all need to make our voices heard. Send a message to your Senator today to support S.169 and demand a restoration of sanity to our immigration system and an end to the “line.”