The people on this waiting list have shown that they have a qualifying family relationship. The list does not include those who are already in the United States waiting to adjust from a legal temporary status to a green card. The waiting lists are needed because of annual limits on the number of immigrants that can be admitted in certain family and employment categories, and because of limits on the number who can come from each country.
Vietnam is in the top four, following Mexico, the Philippines and India. There are 259,030 people in Vietnam waiting to be interviewed for their immigrant visas.
The waiting list should not be confused with the processing backlogs, which represent the length of time it takes for USCIS to adjudicate each application or petition. The waiting lists occur because the demand for green cards exceeds the limits enacted by Congress to regulate the level of immigration. The processing delays occur because USCIS has not effectively managed the huge volume of applications from people seeking immigration benefits. For example, it can take more than 16 months to process the application for the wife and children of U.S. citizens because USCIS has diverted staff to processing DACA and EAD applications.
The law allows for an unlimited number of immigrants who are the spouse, child, or parent of an adult U.S. citizen, so there is no waiting list in that category, although there is a processing time of five months for the initial petition plus additional months for the application itself to be reviewed by NVC.
The waiting times in the family categories (F1,F2,F3,F4) range from 19 months to more than 10 years for Vietnamese applicants.
More than half of the worldwide waiting list is comprised of about 2.5 million people who are in the F4 category, sponsored by a sibling who is a U.S. citizen. These applicants must wait at least 13 years for their visa interview. The largest number (30 percent) are citizens of Mexico, and the wait for them is at least 18 years.
Worldwide, another 806,000 applicants are adult married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. The wait for most applicants in this category is just over 11 years. However, F3 applicants from Mexico and the Philippines have a wait of more than 20 years.
In every Family category (F1,F2,F3,F4), the size of the waiting list grew over the last year, with the list growing most in the category for unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. The existence of this massive waiting list of eligible applicants for family immigrant visas and green cards raises important questions about immigration reform.
Eligible immigrants being sponsored by family members are waiting many years for their opportunity to be admitted to the US legally. When Mr. Obama grants benefits such as work permits, DACA and DAPA, this looks very unfair to those who are waiting in line for their immigrant visas. It seems to them that illegal aliens are getting preferential treatment over those applying through the legal process established by Congress.
For example, the new Central American Minors program allows illegal aliens from El Salvador and two other countries to bring in family members without fees and regardless of prior deportations or felony convictions. Meanwhile, 77,000 legal applicants from El Salvador have to pay the regular application fees, meet higher eligibility standards, and keep waiting for their turn.
Also, the waiting list shows that 75% of pending applicants are in the F3 and F4 categories with waiting times that are measured in decades. Congress should decide if it makes any sense to have these categories. The F3’s and F4’s cannot be admitted to the US within a reasonable time, and they often have children who are not eligible to accompany the parents. This seems more like a cruel joke than a responsible immigration policy.
Now, let’s look at the numbers for Vietnamese immigration. In Fiscal Year 2014, the Consulate in Saigon issued a total of 24,500 immigrant visas. Immediate Relatives of US citizens received 6,240 visas and 18,000 immigrant visas were issued in the Preference categories: 1,640 F-1 Visas,
3,400 F2A visas,
381 F2B visas,
5,452 F3’s and
Q.1. Is Congress still considering immigration reform that would eliminate F3 and F4 visas?
A.1. No, the F3’s and F4’s will be safe for some time to come. Congress is now focusing all their attention on how to control our borders and on what can be done about the millions of illegal immigrants already in the US.
Q.2. Isn’t there any way to reduce the wait times for F3 and F4 cases?
A.2. There is an easy way to speed up processing of F3’s and F4’s: just issue one visa per family instead of a separate visa for each family member. This would free up tens of thousands of visas worldwide and drastically reduce wait times.
Q.3. What about the Visa Lottery? Any chance that Vietnam could be included in that in future?
A.3. The Visa Lottery is only for countries with a small number of immigrants each year. Vietnam is not eligible because so many immigrant visas are issued each year to Vietnamese applicants.
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