Several alternatives have been proposed
to achieve family unity. Bills have been introduced in
Congress for most of these solutions. However, we
believe that none of these alternatives are as attractive as
immediate relative reclassification:
- Renewing the V visa.
Bills have been introduced in the last two sessions of Congress
to renew the V visa (H.R. 3701 in the 108th Congress, H.R. 1823 in
the 109th). These bills attracted a few cosponsors
but had no committee action. The V visa is considered
a workaround because the bills had a sunset provision.
It is also considered complex and adds to the workload of the
immigration service, thus increasing processing delays.
- Allow spouses and minor children to qualify for student/visitor visas.
A bill to this effect has been introduced in the previous and
the current sessions of Congress (H.R. 4448 in the 109th Congress,
H.R. 1628 in the 110th). H.R. 4448 attracted a few
cosponsors but no committee action. H.R. 1628 has
three cosponsors but no committee action either.
However, this alternative has several
Not all family members will qualify for student
visas. It is not necessary that the school for which the
family member qualifies will be in the same geographical area.
Visitor visas only allow limited duration visits.
- Reduce residency requirements for naturalization. This
will allow the LPR to naturalize faster thereby qualifying
his/her spouse and children as immediate family of a citizen.
The House version of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (H.R. 1645)
contains this provision. It will help those who are close
to meeting their naturalization residency requirement and wish to
obtain U.S. citizenship. It will not help those who
recently obtained permanent resident status. And naturalization
can be indefinitely delayed due to FBI name check delays.
- Do not count immigrant visas issued to immediate relatives
of U.S. citizens against the quota available to
Under current law,
immigrant visas issued to spouses,
children, and parents of U.S. citizens are subtracted from the 480,000
immigrant visas available to family preference categories
each fiscal year.
Since there is considerable demand for immigrant visas for immediate
relatives of U.S. citizens, eliminating this reduction would
double the number of immigrant visas available to preference
categories. Unfortunately, this will not reduce wait times
significantly because processing delays also need to be addressed.
This is further exacerbated
by the recently enacted REAL ID Act which eliminates the annual
cap on the number of asylees that can adjust to permanent
residence. While the House version of Comprehensive Immigration
Reform (H.R. 1645) does contain this provision, it increases demand
by introducing new categories of people who can adjust to
permanent residency (earned legalization, agricultural workers,
and additional employment based immigrants). It is
estimated that if even 1% of those who qualify under
these new categories for permanent residency apply for their
spouses and children under the 2A category, the increase
in visas will be completely consumed.
Unlike immediate relative reclassification,
these alternatives are temporary and workaround the fundamental
Some of these solutions increase immigrant benefits beyond
family unity — something that may not be attractive to
Congress in the prevailing climate. We recommend immediate
relative reclassification as the preferred solution to this problem.
Immediate relative reclassification
addresses the problem of family unity — nothing more, nothing
Here's a quick look at what other industrialized nations do:
Canada requires three years of residency in the four years
prior to the application for citizenship.
Time spent in non-immigrant status can be counted towards
meeting the residency requirement.
The United Kingdom has a five year residency requirement.
However, all the time spent in non-immigrant status can be
counted at 100%.
Australia has a two year residency requirement.