For years, U.S. immigration law has made it a priority to reunite families. This doesn’t only mean fiancé visas or accommodations for a foreign-born spouse. It also includes a broader commitment to the immigration of other relatives of U.S. citizens, including children.
These priorities have benefited many people in immigration to Minnesota and elsewhere across the country. Now, however, some voices in the debate in Washington about immigration reform are advocating making family immigration a lower priority in deciding which applicants for immigration are granted legal status in the U.S.
Currently, nearly two-thirds of legal immigrants are admitted due to family immigration. This is significantly more than the percentage admitted due to employment immigration. According to the Migration Policy that percentage stands at 14 percent. There are also people who are allowed to enter the U.S. on humanitarian grounds, such as through refugee status or asylum.
In the debate over immigration reform, the two major political parties take different views on the respective priorities that family immigration and employment immigration should be given.
Many Republicans are interesting in giving greater preference to high-skilled workers. The reasoning is that greater ease of access to the U.S. for engineers and others with in-demand technical skills would help drive economic growth.
Democrats are certainly interested in attracting those workers as well. We have written previously in this blog about Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s efforts to pass legislation that would increase the number of H1-B visas substantially. But Democrats tend to support keeping priorities for family immigration in place, rather than minimizing them in order to give more emphasis to employment immigration.
Source: “Senate group considers large reduction in family visas as part of immigration deal,” The Washington Post, David Nakamura, 3-14-13
To learn more about our practice, please visit our family immigration page.