The immigration system in the United States is often under scrutiny for their long wait times for immigrants trying to obtain a visa to live in the U.S. There are several different types of immigration visas that people apply for, with the most popular being family and employment.
Obtaining an immigrant visa typically requires someone to sponsor who is a U.S. citizen or legal resident to sponsor the applicant. This can be either a family member or employer in many cases. Millions of immigrants apply for visas in the U.S. According to the most recent figures, there are more than four million family visas applications pending, and roughly 111,600 employment visas pending.
It is important for immigrants applying for a visa to know that the U.S. only approves so many visas each year. In 2014, U.S. law says that up to 226,000 family-based visas and roughly 150,000 employment-based visa applications can be approved.
Getting your immigrant visa approved may depend on what country you are from. Typically, family-based visa applications take longer for immigrant from Mexico and the Philippines due to the high volume of people applying for visas from these countries. This creates a backlog of applications so it takes longer to review them. This year's cap for applications that can be approved in each country is at 26,320, meaning that not as many applicants from these two countries get approved.
Immigration applications can take a long time to be processed. It is important for individuals applying for a family-based or employment-based visa to be aware of the time it will take to have their application reviewed as well as the chances of having their application approved to understand what other options may be available.
Source: ABC News, "Long Waits for Would-Be-Immigrants, Not for Others," David Crary, Jan. 4, 2014