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Chain migration was a term coined in the 1960s to describe the social process of individuals moving from one town to another town – and there family following soon after. Unfortunately, the Republicans in the Congress are now using the term chain migration to describe family-based immigration. Family-based immigration allows for family unification – a key American value. Unfortunately, chain migration has taken on a derogatory meaning in the news lately, thanks to the Trump administration’s hardline stance against immigration. Anti-immigration rhetoric aims to convince U.S. citizens that that chain migration is an easy way for immigrants to bring in hundreds of extended family members by skirting U.S. immigration laws.

That is not true. Chain migration is a legal family-sponsored immigration tool that has helped thousands of immigrants keep their families together after they move to the United States.

What You Need To Know About Chain Migration

The so-called “chain migration” tool is part of the U.S. visa program that allows immigrants who have migrated legally into the country to bring their immediate family members to the United States. Current U.S. immigration law allows immigrant citizens to sponsor certain relatives for green cards, typically spouses and minor children, but it can be extended to include parents, adult children, and adult siblings. For these reasons, it is also sometimes referred to as Family Reunification.

Once these new green card holders arrive, they can then, in turn, also sponsor certain relatives for green cards, which is where the “chain” reference comes in to play.

Why Chain Migration Is Such A Hot Button Issue

Critics of U.S. immigration policies contend that this family-based visa program leads to uncontrolled entry of immigrants and increases immigration numbers dramatically, which in turn, leads to immigrants taking jobs that could otherwise be filled by U.S. citizens and creates a national security threat.

However, what the issue really comes down to is restricting immigration. Immigration restrictionists want to see lower total numbers of immigrants coming in to the U.S. – even if that means targeting legal immigration vehicles like the family visa programs. Currently, family-sponsored immigration tools account for 65% of new legal immigrants to the U.S. every year, so restricting use of the tool would dramatically reduce immigration numbers.

Is Chain Migration Really A Problem?

No. Chain migration is a myth.

The reality of the situation is that there are limitations, restrictions, and caps on how family-based immigration visas and green cards can be used. For example, anyone entering the U.S. under a family-sponsored visa must undergo the same screening procedures as any other applicant. That includes a thorough background check, including a criminal background check, providing proof of their ability to support themselves, have no disqualifying medical conditions, and no prior immigration law violations.

Although it is true that there aren’t any caps or limits on the number of immediate relatives (spouses and minor children) a sponsor can bring over, there are caps on the total number of married children and adult siblings an immigrant citizen can sponsor. There are also caps on the total number of immigrants from a single country in a given year. Given these caps, many extended relatives have to wait decades before they are eligible for a green card, even if they have a sponsor.

All that the family-sponsored visa does for a person is give the immigrant family member special immigration priority; they do not wait in line for a visa number. Visas are available to them immediately, but whether they can enter the U.S. under those visas is not guaranteed.

Make Sense of Immigration Policies With Help From An Immigration Lawyer

There are so many scare tactics and untruths being spread around the topic of immigration these days that it is no wonder people are terrified and confused! If you think you think you may be affected by changes to U.S. immigration law, contact our Orlando immigration law firm immediately. We work with immigrants throughout the United States to help them find legal ways to remain in the country, fight deportation charges, and keep families together.

The law is still the law and even the U.S. government must adhere to it. If you believe your rights are being violated or if you just have questions about immigration topics, please contact The Law Offices of Gail Seeram in Orlando at +1 (407) 292-7730 to schedule a free consultation.