Immigration Law: A Reform May Limit Family-Based Visas

In 2011, well over a million people became U.S. permanent residents. The majority of this group, about 65 percent, obtained their green cards based on a family relationship with a U.S. citizen or U.S. green-card holder. These statistics reflect the fact that immigration law favors keeping families together. Based on this policy of family reunification, the laws currently give a big preference to immigrants who have relatives in the United States.

However, some proposed that a reform to the immigration law would change the current system of family preferences. One change now being debated would eliminate some categories of family members eligible for green cards.

The current immigration law

Under current law, brothers and sisters of a U.S. citizen may apply for green cards as part of the family preference category. The number of family preference visas granted each year is limited and wait times are often long. But siblings of a U.S. citizen are eligible to obtain green cards. Also, currently a US parent may petition for his/her married son or daughter, no matter what age they are, albeit the long wait.

Immigration Law: The proposed reforms

A possible reform to the system would exclude siblings and married children over the age 31 from the list of family members eligible to apply for permanent residency. Instead, more visas would be allocated using a merit system that would consider factors like level of education and job skills.

Reform to the family-based visa categories is just one of the many possible changes to Immigration Law my office is currently tracking. We keep up with new changes to the law so that we can advise our clients accordingly. If you or a family member is considering applying for reunification with your family members, please contact our office today so we can explain the process to you and help you unite with your loved ones.

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