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Would You Wait 150 Years For a Visa?

June 27, 2024 (2 min read)

John Manley, June 27, 2024

"As in past campaign seasons, we will hear politicians say that, when it comes to immigration, a person needs to “get in line” and wait his or her turn.

But what if that line stretches to infinity?

Consider this actual real-life example when you hear about the topic of immigration reform: A Mexican family lives in the United States for a few years. One parent has TN status and has worked in the United States as a graphics artist for three years. TN visas came about because of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which enshrined special economic relationships between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. As USCIS describes it, “The TN nonimmigrant classification permits qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens to seek temporary entry into the United States to engage in business activities at a professional level.”

The family has Child A, who was born in Mexico before they moved, and then welcomes Child B, born in the United States. The parent completes his or her work assignment and moves back to Mexico with the family.

Child B moves back to the United States when he turns twenty-one and wants to petition for his sibling, Child A. Did you know our Visa Bulletin system is based on the Immigration and Nationality Act? That means our Visa Bulletin is based on Congress’ vision of America as it existed in 1965.

Under that system, annual visa issuances for the sibling category are limited to 65,000; one country can only have 7 percent of that number, or 4550. At one point, the entire southwest United States used to be Mexico. Even from the start, the sibling category for Mexico experienced backlogs that worsened yearly.

According to Department of State statistics, as of November 2023, 688,740 Mexicans are backlogged in line under the F4 category. Returning to our example, Child B files a visa petition for his sibling, Child A. With 688,740 people in line already and only 4550 numbers granted yearly, Child B only has to wait about 151 years to receive his visa.

That “line” they are supposed to get into essentially stretches to infinity.

I urge presidential candidates, and indeed candidates at any level, to reflect on how the immigration laws from decades ago are shaping the lives of their constituents today. It is past time for comprehensive, reasonable, reality-based immigration reform. We will all benefit from this type of thinking."