How Long Does Legal Immigration to the US Actually Take

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Immigration Processing Time Different

The current race to the American presidency is raising many questions about immigration, with right wing politicians such as Donald Trump making statements about immigration being an easy, quick process. But is this actually the case, not according to law professor Neils W. Frenzen, Director of the University of Southern California’s immigration clinic, who stated that this is not the case, as there are different categories of people who can immigrate to the USA.

legal immigration to the us

The categories are as follows, for the immediate family such as a fiancé adopted child or other certain family members. Or for someone who has been sponsored by his or her employer, or a returning resident or on a Diversity Immigrant visa. The prospective immigrant has to have evidence that they have enough money or that their sponsor has enough money for them to live off, without claiming welfare also they must not have a criminal record.

Employment-based immigration is processed more quickly, usually within one year but there needs to be a lot of documentation from you and your employer, as this route is for highly skilled workers. Immediate family are processed the quickest, like the employer-sponsored visa, it is generally within a year.

The longest wait is for family members who do not come under the immediate family category. This could mean brothers or sisters, with relatives from the Philippines having the longest wait, currently around 23 years. This is because there is a backlog of Filipinos that have brothers or sisters who want to live in the USA.

There are estimated to be around 11 million illegal immigrants living in the USA at the moment, many of them from Asia and China, it can be difficult for them to get legal status if they do not have a wealthy family to sponsor them or a skilled job, as immigrants under these categories are more in demand.

The Differences Between Trump and Clinton on Immigration

Immigration has been a hot topic is the American race to the Presidency. The huge gap in immigration policy between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton has been controversial to say the least.

Donald Trump has been loudest on the issue, trumpeting on an almost daily basis about building walls between the US and Mexico and deporting all illegal immigrants as well as stopping the H1-B visa and disallowing people from certain countries from even being able to apply for a US visa. Whereas Clinton has said that she will help undocumented immigrants to integrate in to US society and gain residency.

Business leaders and economists have looked in detail about both propositions and have had misgivings about many of the ideas proposed.

The wall along the US-Mexican border, which could cost around $10 billion, has already been turned down by Mexico, especially given that Trump expects Mexico to foot the rather large bill. He proposes making Mexico pay for it by limiting wire transfers to Mexico by illegal workers to their families. As well as increasing visa fees and tariffs.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, wants to protect national security and start immigration reform with a clear path to citizenship. If the illegal immigrant is seen as a threat to public safety then they could be deported.

With regards refugees, Trump wants a blanket ban on Muslim immigrants coming to America, claiming that they provide cover for terrorists to enter the States, which given that the majority of terrorist attacks in the US now are committed by US citizens. On the other hand Clinton wants to welcome genuine refugees, and is prepared to accept 65,000 Syrians in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Trump also wants to stop birthright citizenship, where automatic citizenship is given to the children of illegal immigrants born in America.

Clinton proposes creating a pathway for immigrants to become US citizens, especially if they have family already in the country.

When it comes to the H1-B visa, Trump wants to increase the wages for H1-B visa holders so that they are not used as a form of cheap labour, thus undercutting American workers.

Clinton is showing support for the DAPA and DACA programmes whereby illegal immigrants are able to get work permits. She has up till now fully supported the H1-B visa which she helped bring in, as a way for tech companies in particular to get highly skilled workers, that they may have been unable to get in the local labour force.

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