Many families apply for family immigration visas every year to come to the United States. However, many applicants end up waiting years for their application to be reviewed due to the current backlog of family-sponsored immigration visas.
Many families rely on family based visas to come to the U.S. to reunite with their family members. In fact, over 80 percent of visas issued to people in Asian countries are for family visas. The high volume of people applying for family visas has led to a backlog that is keeping families apart.
Advocates for immigration reform hope that new policies can help reduce the backlog of family based immigration visas and help families reunite and stay together. One reason for the backlog and long waiting period for some families is because there are two different types of family-based visas in the U.S.
One category is for immediate relatives, which is used for family members like spouses, parents, and children under 21. Visas for immediate relatives are not limited. However, the second category, called family preference, is limited to 226,000 visas per year. Family preference visas are for distant family members, including siblings, unmarried children of green card holders and adult children over 21.
Both categories of family based visas have led to a backlog of visa applications in the U.S. There are roughly four million individuals waiting for their family visas to be reviewed and are currently separated from their families in the U.S.
Immigration reform advocates are calling for Congress to propose immigration reform bills that will address this issue and reduce the backlog of family immigration visas. Many people are hopeful and are waiting for the next legislative session to start this fall to see if Congress will finally address and resolve this issue.
Source: SAMPAM, "Backlog of family immigration cases poses continuing problem," Sylvana Chan, Sept. 6, 2013