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Immigration Law

1.6 Million Family‐​Sponsored Immigrants Will Die Before They Can Immigrate

David J. Bier, Mar. 10, 2022

"The United States hit a new record of about 7.7 million immigrants at various stages in its family‐​based permanent residence process in 2021—an increase of about 400,000 since 2019 and nearly a million since 2016. The staggering number is largely the consequence of outdated numerical limits on green cards last updated in 1990. As a result of the numerical limits on green cards, the big backlog will result in massive, decades‐​long wait times, and nearly 1.6 million family‐​sponsored immigrants will die before they have the chance to immigrate to the United States legally. ... There was never any reason to cap the number of family‐​sponsored green cards, and Congress should uncap them again, as was the case for the Western Hemisphere until the Immigration Act of 1965. Instead of uncapping green cards, Congress should permit backlogged family members to guarantee nonimmigrant visas for these close relatives of U.S. citizens, so that they are not permanently separated from their family while they wait. Even if it doesn’t uncap them entirely, Congress should take other measures to increase green cards—including exempting spouses and minor children of primary applicants—and recapturing previously unused green cards."