The United States immigration system allows immigrants who have gained legal permanent residence or who are naturalized to become United Citizens to sponsor certain relatives to join them in the United States. The goal of this is to allow family reunification. This immigration system is sometimes referred to as “chain migration,” although the term is used derisively by some.
This system is disfavored because it is assumed that permitting family members to immigrate to the United States for no other reason than family ties puts a drain on government services and poses a danger to national security. While there are people who immigrate to the United States through this method who go on to commit crimes or claim government benefits, there are a great many others who go on to lead productive lives and never get into trouble with the law or pose a danger to society.
There is no guaranteed right to immigration through a relative, even if the relative is a United States citizen. There is a right for the citizen to sponsor an application; however, the person to be sponsored still has to go through a vetting process. If the person fails the vetting, the person’s application for permanent residence or a visa can be denied. In addition to the security checks that potential immigrants must undergo, the vetting process includes an assessment of the applicant and the sponsor’s finances, and the application can be denied on the basis of insufficient funds.
Additionally, depending on the familial relationship, it can take years or decades for the family member to be allowed to immigrate to the United States. It is faster for direct family members such as children and spouses to get the chance to immigrate, but it takes a much longer time for parents’ and siblings’ applications to be processed. Distant relatives are not eligible to be sponsored in this manner.
As we have written before, there is a proposal to change the current system to one that will be merit based. A merit based system is seen by critics of the current system as more beneficial to the United Stated because only potential immigrants with certain skills would be given preference when it came to applying to immigrate to the United States.
Allowing immigrants to come into the country to be reunited with their loved ones has been of benefit to the United States economy and society. The current system may need some changes or amendments. However, completely getting rid of the ability of lawful permanent residents and citizens to sponsor their family members would be a negative blow to both immigrant families and the communities in which they live.
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The so-called chain-based immigration system may be changed in one way or another, so if you are a U.S. resident and would like more information on how you can sponsor an application for a parent or a sibling or another eligible relative, contact our multi-lingual staff to speak to an experienced immigration attorney from Strassburg, Gilmore & Wei, LLP, in Pasadena, California.