The never-ending backlog of green cards for family-based immigrants has become an increasingly daunting challenge over the past three decades. This frustrating situation has transformed lawful immigration and reunification into an arduous process, causing countless families to endure separation for extended periods. To illustrate the extent of this issue, U.S. citizens and green card holders who apply today to sponsor their loved ones from abroad can expect a wait that spans not just years, but decades. The dream of being reunited in the United States continues to feel like a distant horizon for these families.
Family-Based Immigration Backlogs Lead to Decades of Separation
The issue of extensive backlogs in various family-based immigration channels has been an ongoing challenge, hindering the timely reunification of families and posing a significant obstacle for individuals seeking authorized pathways to immigrate. Notably, green card holders sponsoring their unmarried adult children from specific countries have faced a backlog dating all the way back to 2001. This prolonged wait has had profound consequences, with families missing out on significant life events and milestones, such as weddings, graduations, or even the joyous arrival of grandchildren. Tragically, some individuals pass away before they can finally be reunited with their loved ones, further highlighting the heartbreaking impact of these extensive delays.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Family-Based Immigration
In the fiscal year 2021, a mere 65,452 family preference green cards were issued, a stark contrast to the available annual allocation of 226,000 green cards. This significant gap has resulted in hundreds of thousands of green cards going unused, with the unfortunate likelihood of many being permanently wasted, perpetuating the unnecessary separation of numerous families. The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with restrictive administrative policies, further exacerbated the situation, contributing to the mounting backlogs experienced in recent years, particularly within the family preference categories. Disturbingly, from November 2020 to 2021, the backlog of both family and employment-based preference visas witnessed a disheartening 4% increase, underscoring the far-reaching consequences of these challenging circumstances.
Millions of Relatives of U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents Stuck in Green Card Backlogs
According to the State Department, an immense backlog in family-based immigration has left approximately 4 million individuals stranded overseas, eagerly awaiting their chance to join their loved ones in the United States. It's important to note that this staggering figure does not even account for family members who are already residing in the U.S. under different immigration statuses but have applied to adjust their status to obtain a green card. Astonishingly, family-based immigration constitutes around 65% of the lawful immigration flow each year and has contributed to nearly 85% of new immigrant arrivals to the U.S. within the past decade. Notably, over 80% of green card recipients from Mexico have been sponsored by family members residing in the U.S., while family members have sponsored over 50% of recipients from Asia.
Although U.S. citizens have the privilege of sponsoring certain foreign-born immediate relatives like spouses, unmarried children, and parents for immediate immigration without numerical limitations, other relatives fall under the numerically restricted Family Preference category. Despite the substantial growth in the U.S. population over recent years, the immigration system has failed to keep pace. Our annual immigration quotas were established in the early 1990s and have seen little alteration since then.
Compounding the issue, the methodology employed to determine the annual number of employment- and family-based immigrants is inherently flawed. This flaw has resulted in the minimum allocation of family-based immigration slots over the past two decades, with hundreds of thousands of green cards for family members remaining unused and wasted, instead of being utilized to reunite families in dire need. The current situation is a distressing reality that demands urgent attention and comprehensive reform.
Can an Immigration Attorney Help Expedite the Process?
For families facing the daunting task of navigating the complex world of family immigration law, the goal of being reunited with loved ones can seem impossible. Hiring an experienced family immigration attorney may be the key to moving your case forward.
A family immigration attorney can provide:
- Knowledge of Immigration Laws: Family immigration cases involve extensive knowledge of immigration laws and regulations. An experienced attorney specializes in this field and stays up-to-date with any changes or new policies. They will have a deep understanding of the intricacies of immigration law, ensuring that your case is handled with utmost expertise.
- Guidance Through the Application Process: The process of applying for a family-based visa or green card can be overwhelming. There are countless forms to complete, supporting documents to gather, and deadlines to meet. A family immigration attorney will guide you through each step of the application process, ensuring that everything is completed accurately and on time.
- Strategic Advice and Planning: Each family immigration case is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. An experienced attorney will assess your situation and develop a personalized strategy tailored to your specific needs. They will advise you on the best course of action, helping you understand the potential challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
- Representation in Court: If your case requires appearing before an immigration judge, having an attorney by your side is invaluable. They will represent you in court, compellingly arguing why your loved ones should be granted entry or permanent residency. Their experience and expertise will greatly increase your chances of success.
- Navigation of Complex Legal Issues: Family immigration cases often involve various legal complexities, such as criminal records, previous immigration violations, or waivers. An experienced attorney knows how to navigate these challenges, find solutions to overcome potential obstacles, and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
- Peace of Mind: Perhaps one of the most significant advantages of hiring a family immigration attorney is the peace of mind it brings. Knowing that a knowledgeable professional is handling your case allows you to focus on what matters most: being reunited with your loved ones. You can rest assured that your case is in capable hands, increasing your chances of a successful outcome.
Hiring an experienced family immigration attorney can make a world of difference when it comes to reuniting families. Their expertise, guidance, and representation will help you navigate the complexities of immigration law, increasing your chances of a successful outcome. Don't face this challenging process alone - seek the assistance of a trusted family immigration attorney to bring your loved ones back together. Call (901) 209-5500 today to schedule a consultation to discuss your legal situation.