SignonSanDiego reports: The House measure to expand the number of family visas for relatives of U.S. residents hoping to make the U.S. home is expected to benefit, among others, Mexicans, who often wait roughly 10 years for permission to live here. Under a measure approved by the House Tuesday, with a 389-15 vote, family-based visa limits rise from 7 percent per country to 15 percent per country, an adjustment that could slightly ease the backlog for naturalized citizens, particularly from Mexico and the Philippines, trying to bring relatives into the United States.
The majority of immigrants in the United States are admitted through family-based visas. Mexicans account for about 30 percent of the U.S. immigrant population – that includes Mexicans of all immigration status – and nearly all Mexicans who are granted U.S. permanent residency, known casually as having a "green card," are admitted into the country on family-based visas.
Almost 60 percent of Mexicans admitted into the United States were immediate relatives sponsored by U.S. citizens, about 35 percent were non-immediate relatives. Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizens include a spouse, unmarried children under 21 years of age, or the parent of someone who is at least 21. Visas for these categories typically are not subject to caps.
So-called family preference immigrant visas are subject to caps, and that can affect the length of time between the day a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident submits a petition for admission to the United States, and the day that person ultimately may get admitted. These visas are subject to caps, and are the ones that would change under the House bill, which next will go to the Senate for a vote.
These visas cover such relatives as sons and daughters, over the age of 21, of U.S. citizens; spouses and minor children of legal U.S. permanent residents; and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, among others. The legislation was hailed by people on different sides of the immigration debate as a rare example of bipartisan accord on immigration, an issue that largely has been avoided during the current session of Congress because of the political sensitivities involved.
The measure also would eliminate the current law that says employment-based visas to any one country can't exceed 7 percent of the total number of such visas given out. Instead, permanent residence visas or green cards would be handled on a first-come, first-served basis.
“This will significantly shorten the wait for the people in the family queues,” said Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, a national federation of small business owners working for changes in immigration laws.