One of the most commonly utilized metaphors in the U.S. immigration debate is talking about a ‘line’ in which everyone in theory must wait. However, the actual picture is significantly more nuanced and complex. If you are in a position where you are waiting for approval, or if you are trying to bring a family member to the United States, understanding the process better can ease stress on you and all involved.
Many Exclusive Lines
The primary myth often bruited by the uneducated is that there is one ‘line.’ In reality, there are many different ones, all rendered fairly exclusive by the legal requirements, amount of money, and paperwork required to join them.
For example, if you are the unmarried child of a U.S. citizen, your parent is able to apply for a permanent resident card for you under U.S. immigration law. To do so requires money, paperwork, proof of eligibility and time. If, over time, you meet someone and marry, your petition will be denied—you are no longer unmarried, and thus no longer eligible. You would not only have to lose your place in ‘line,’ you would have to join an entirely different one based on your marital status.
The various ‘lines’ also require that your purpose for immigration remain the same throughout the process. Once your visa is granted, you may be able to adjust status, but if your purpose for immigrating changes during the process, you must begin again. If a foreign worker applies for an H1B visa, for example, and his or her employer abroad decides instead to apply for an L1 on his or her behalf, the H1B application would need to be abandoned and an L1 petition begun instead.
Another significant myth one often hears in discussing immigration is that once someone is properly ‘in line,’ he or she will not have to wait long to be approved, especially in regards to family-based visas. Yet this is simply not the case and is dependent upon the visa he or she is applying for, his or her country of origin, and his or her relationship to a U.S. citizen. Due to a system of priority dates designed to restrict immigration into a cohesive flow, some potential immigrants are forced to wait years, or even decades. During that time, citizen sponsors may die, or children may age out of the system—which, of course, invalidates the petition.
None of this even touches the predicaments in which undocumented immigrants may find themselves, especially those were brought to the United States as children. In terms of metaphor, most undocumented people are not even permitted to join the “line,” at least not until they have left the country to wait out a bar. This can add years to the already-prohibitive wait times assessed against these immigration petitions, and often places the person in a foreign country they have had no contact with, away from all they know, solely due to the location of their birth. If you or a loved one is undocumented, however, this may be the best option you can get.
Seek a Compassionate Legal Professional
Between misinformation and myths, it can be difficult to figure out what the correct procedure is for joining or preserving one’s place in ‘line.’ The understanding and knowledgeable Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC will be happy to help you understand what to do and when to do it. Contact us today at 630-932-9100, or via our website, to set up a free consultation.
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