US based Immigration Policy Center, the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council, has released a paper today on family immigration. Family Immigration: Repairing Our Broken Immigration System addresses the challenges, gaps and lays out what they see as “the key principles for family immigration within the context of comprehensive immigration reform”. Some useful information for Canada to also consider. An excerpt from the introduction follows.
Principles for reform of the family immigration system:
- Family unification must remain a fundamental pillar of U.S. immigration policy. Proposals that sacrifice family immigration for the sake of employment-based immigration create an unfair and erroneous dichotomy. Family immigrants work and contribute to the U.S. in many ways. Both the family-based and employment-based immigration systems can be fixed without sacrificing one for the other.
- The current backlog of family-based immigrants must be cleared, and law-abiding families must be reunited in a humane and reasonable timeline. There are several possible options to clear the backlogs and promote family unification, including moving spouses and minor children into the “immediate relatives” category.
- The spouses and minor children of legalized immigrants must be issued visas at the time of the primary applicant’s legalization. Including spouses and children in the legalization provisions will help to prevent future backlogs.
- Unused and unclaimed family-based visas must be recaptured, and a mechanism to ensure that future unused visas are not wasted must be created. Congress authorizes a set number of visas to be made available annually. When these visas go unused, the problems with backlogs only worsen. Recapturing visas would not overstep the numerical limits set by Congress, but it would alleviate some of the consequences of visa oversubscription.
- The numerical caps on family-based immigration must be revisited and brought in line with current realities. The last adjustments to the numerical caps were made in 1990. These numbers must be reconsidered and brought up to 21st century requirements.
- USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) must receive the resources necessary to resolve backlogged family immigration cases and ensure that processing backlogs do not reoccur. True reform means eliminating the circumstances that led to the problems in the first place.