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Carl Shusterman's Immigration Update

New Immigration Bill Would Fix Family-Based Immigration

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Our current immigration system which forces parents to be separated from their children and husbands to be separated from their wives for years at a time is both cruel to immigrant families and unworthy of our country's proud heritage as a nation of immigrants.

The immigration reform bill introduced by Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL.) and 90 co-sponsors on December 15 would improve the backlog-plagued family-based immigration system in a number of ways.

We list some of the most significant changes below:

1) Immediate Relatives Would No Longer Be Subtracted from Preference Categories -

Spouses, parents and children of U.S. citizens are considered "immediate relatives" and are not subject to numerical quotas that force other relatives to have to wait from four to over 22 years to qualify for permanent residence in the U.S. Current law allocates 480,000 green cards per year to numerically-limited family-based immigrants. However, this number is a complete fiction since immediate relatives are required to be counted against this number. Since the number of immediate relatives who immigrate to the U.S. each year exceeds 480,000, the number of visas remaining would be zero for immigrants under the four family-based preference categories. However, current law establishes a "floor" of 226,000 family-based preference immigrants.

The new bill would dispense with this deceptive practice. Immediate relatives would no longer be subtracted from the number of family-based preference immigrants who are allowed to obtain permanent residence each year.

2) Family Numbers Would Be Carried Forward -

Currently, unused family-based numbers are transferred to the employment-based categories in the following fiscal year. And theoretically, unused employment-based numbers are transferred to the family-based categories.

However, in reality, because immediate relatives are subtracted from the family-based numbers, family-based visa numbers never exceed the floor of 226,000. The transfer of unused EB numbers to the family-based categories, therefore, never actually occurs.

The new bill would change this by allowing unused family-based numbers in one year to be used during the next fiscal year in the family-based categories.

3) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents -

Currently, a green card holder who sponsors his spouse and children must wait between four to six years before they are allowed to reunite with him in the U.S. Recognizing the cruelty of separating nuclear families, the new bill would reclassify the spouse and children of permanent residents as "immediate relatives" thereby eliminating this wait.

4) Reallocation of Visa Numbers for Family-Based Preferences -

Inasmuch as the family-based 2A preference category will disappear (since spouses and children of permanent residents would be added to the immediate relative category), the 2nd preference numbers would be reduced from 114,200 to 60,000, a decrease of 54,200 which would be reallocated to the other family-based preference categories as follows:

A) Family 1st (unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) would increase from 23,400 to 38,000;

B) Family 3rd (married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens) would increase from 23,400 to 38,000; and

C) Family 4th (brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens) would increase from 65,000 to 90,000.

5) Increase in Per-Country Quotas -

Currently, family members are unfairly penalized due to their countries of origin. For example, while brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens generally wait 10 years to become permanent residents, those born in Mexico must wait over 14 years while those born in the Philippines are forced to wait over 22 years to qualify for permanent residence. In an effort to reduce such absurdly long waiting times and to treat applicants on a more equal basis, the per-country quotas would be increased from 7% to 10% of the worldwide total. For example, coupled with the increase in visa numbers, the number of persons born in the Philippines who could obtain green cards each year under the family 4th category would increase from 4,550 per year (7% of 65,000) to 9,000 per year (10% of 90,000).

In addition, the new bill creates a number of other beneficial changes for family-based immigrants. These changes are too numerous to be listed in this article. One of the most significant changes, however, is to create a special immigrant category for sons and daughters of Filipino World War II veterans. There would be no numerical limitations on this category.

We link to the new immigration reform bill from our "Immigration Legislation" page at

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Updated 12-02-2013 at 04:46 PM by CShusterman


  1. anonymous's Avatar
    So in title 3 section 304, it's talks about the bar/waiver for unlawful presence. If this bill passes, does this mean that 3/10 yr bar for overstatying visa will be waived? For example, people who overstayed their visa more than a year, left the country and can not come back even if the visa is available (parents being sponsored by US citizen child) due to 10yr bar of unlawful presence, will be able to get a visa and bar will be waived?
  2. Gaurav's Avatar
    What about parents of american citizen who is still a kid? Do the parents still have to wait for 21 years, before kid can sponser them for premament residency?
    How can parents bring up there kid as a good american citizen when parents do not live in US?

  3. Melanie's Avatar
    We tried to get my husband his papers but they told him he had to wait 10years and try again!! Since then we have had a son whom is 9months old today. Is there something else we can try or do we have to wait till they change a law or something. If you know please email me thanx!
  4. Jianna's Avatar
    When will this law came to effect?so this mean that my husband won't have to leVe the country after if I sponsor him?
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