A recent post on the Washington Post’s WonkBlog brilliantly illustrates, with a Rube Goldberg style flow chart, just how complex and lengthy the pathways to legal immigration in the U.S. have become. A link to another flow chart by Mike Flynn and Shikha Dalmia similarly depicts the absurdity of the current system, though with less detail.
As aptly noted in this piece by Sarah Kliff, immigration pathways generally diverge based on whether an immigrant seeking permanent residence or citizenship has relatives who are lawfully in the U.S., has special labor skills, has special education degrees, or has the ability to invest large sums of money in U.S.-based enterprises that will create or save jobs in this country.
All of that is somewhat understandable, but the numerous hoops an immigrant must jump through, no matter which pathway to citizenship they pursue, are potentially discouraging and certainly inefficient.
Of course, marrying a U.S. citizen is one of the quickest ways to citizenship, but even that is fraught with difficulties, and often takes several years to accomplish after processing delays and taking of various tests. The wait is even longer for someone who is trying to enter the U.S. as the relative of a lawful permanent resident, taking more than 10 years at minimum and more than 20 very often.
Even a star athlete or a millionaire investor, either of whom can possibly get a green card in 18 months, will have to wait six to seven years to become a citizen, and that is if all goes smoothly in the paperwork process.
If you are a more typical worker with some kind of special skill needed in the U.S., then you or your employer will need to pay thousands of dollars in fees to obtain the proper visa to work here, and you will wait six to 10 years for a green card, and another several years for citizenship (again if you jump through all the procedural hoops quickly and correctly).
It is little wonder then that many immigrants just “jump the line” and enter illegally. The U.S. badly needs immigration reform and the early hope at the start of this year for some kind of bipartisan agreement should not be allowed to die.
As always, the Law Office of Ronald Shapiro, Esq. stands ready to serve those in need of immigration assistance. Please call us at (847)564-0712 to speak with an experienced and qualified immigration attorney and/or check out our immigration law Website for more information about how we might assist you.