OK, recently we've decided that part of the reason this blog exists is to bring light to some of the facts, myths, and injustices in the world of US immigration because our lives have been permanently affected by them.
So first, we've got to clarify what it takes to immigrate to the US. In the olden days, people could arrive to the US on a ship, full of hopes and willingness to work hard, sign their name to a register, get a medical check-up, and start a life full of promise in the US. It is no longer even remotely this simple.
According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, there are four ways a person can immigrate to the US:
- Be one of the rare winners of the US State Department's Diversity Lottery. This only applies to people from certain countries (most of the world's largest ones are excluded), and requires experience in a particular occupation or academic training.
- Get sponsored by an employer. Note: Only applies to high-skilled professionals in extremely specific fields, like certain doctors, scientists, researchers, or religious workers. The employer has to get special approval from the US government certifying the need for a foreign worker.
- Be a very wealthy and successful investor ready to start or take over a capital enterprise.
- Be immediately related to a US Citizen or Permanent Resident.
For those fortunate to qualify under one of these four categories, entering the US is still often unreachable. That last category I mentioned, the US relative category, is a very common way for people to apply for a visa. However, even having a US relative doesn't often get you into the US on time to make much of your dreams.
Example: If you are a citizen of the Philippines and you applied for a US immigrant visa through your brother in 1986, you would still, to this day, be waiting for your visa. That's 22 years of waiting! (See the Visa Bulletin for this data)
In other words, for the vast majority of people on Earth, immigrating to the US legally simply is not possible.
While I'm not condoning illegal immigration, I simply want to point out how truly difficult it is for the well-intentioned, hard-working dreamers of the world to immigrate to the US.
For a more graphic approach to what is written here, I refer you to the incredibly clever flowchart devised by Reason.org, aptly named, "What part of legal immigration don't you understand?"