Facing a proposed law that slashes family-based immigration, Americans are scrambling to law firms to petition for visas for loved ones abroad to come here. NPR reports that President Trump wants Congress to limit the number of family members who Americans can sponsor to join them in the United States. The proposal has caused panic in some communities.
People are in a rush to try to get applications (Forms I-130, Petitions for Alien Relatives) submitted as soon as possible just in case the law does change. Relatives that could be barred under the President’s proposal include:
- Parents of U.S. citizens.
- Siblings of U.S. citizens
- Sons and daughters over age 21 of permanent residents and U.S. citizens
President Trump in his State of the Union got booed by Democrats for misrepresenting how it works now. The President stated that “Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children.”
There is no ability to sponsor “distant relatives” under the current law–the President is proposing curbing visas for parents, children, and siblings. And the number of relatives who can immigrate is not “virtually unlimited” for two reasons. First, for sons and daughters over age 21, as well as for siblings, there are annual quotas set by Congress for how many people can immigrate. That, in turn, creates waiting lists.
NPR explains: “For example, if you’re from the United States and you want to sponsor your sister from Mexico, right now the processing time is looking like at least 20 years, if not longer.”
The American Immigration Lawyers Association says its members across the country are experiencing a surge of consultations.