Jean Danhong Chen on What You Should Expect When Migrating as a Family
Media coverage around immigration has been increasingly polarized as of late, due in part to divisive rhetoric espoused by the President of the United States. Most recently, President Donald Trump condemned ‘chain migration’ during his State of the Union address in early 2018, explaining that “a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.”
Jean Danhong Chen, an immigration lawyer based out of San Jose, California, strives to separate fact from fiction. After founding her law office in 2003, Jean Danhong Chen has been advocating for clients’ interests by providing quality employment and family-based immigration services to corporate and individual clients throughout the United States.
What is Family Immigration?
Family is a major driver of migration. Jean Danhong Chen explains that family migration is a term used to categorize the migration of people who migrate due to new or established family ties. If you have a family member who is a citizen or a green card holder, you can, under some cases, be given priority consideration for entry into the United States.
Jean Danhong Chen explains that President Donald Trump is right in that immigrants admitted on the basis of family ties definitely constitute the largest share of new permanent residents each year; however, where he gets it wrong is that the potential for a never-ending and expanding chain is extremely constrained.
Policies Regulating Immigration
To better understand how immigration works, it is important to understand how the policies work. Jean Danhong Chen outlines that policies regulating permanent legal immigration to the United States are organized around four main objectives: keeping families together, admitting immigrants that bring needed employment-based skills, addressing humanitarian purposes, and maintaining a diversity of countries of origin.
These policies were put in place after eliminating national origin quotas that heavily favored northern and western European countries; this system was put in place with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 and the 1965 Amendments to the Immigration and Naturalization Act. This has meant that the number of legal permanent residents has averaged roughly one million people over the last decade. Family-based immigration accounts for roughly two-thirds of that number annually.
What is Chain Migration?
“Chain migration” looks like this: American citizens can petition on behalf of spouses, children, parents, and siblings for green cards. This means that a citizen could sponsor a sibling for a green card and, if granted, that sibling could then sponsor their child. This is officially known as ‘family reunification’ under federal law. ‘Chain migration’, then, is simply a technical name for a common sense idea, which is that people are more likely to move where their relatives are.
The application process for permanent residency of certain family members varies from person to person and is based on whether the person petitioning is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, as well as family relationship, age, marital status, and country of birth. However, citizenship is not automatically granted to those who are sponsored by their family members in the United States and the waiting period can be anywhere from a few months to a few decades.
There are two broad categories of family-based immigration visas: immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and those classified under the family-preference system. While there are no numerical limitations on the number of visas for the first category, there are numerical limitations on the second. In order to ensure that not all visas go to the first category of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, congress established a minimum of 226,000 for visas in the family-preference system.
Final Thoughts from Jean Danhong Chen
Unfortunately, there are currently several major limitations when it comes to immigrating to the United States as a family. With statutory limits on family-preference categories, major backlogs, limited family-based immigration, and an extensive screening process for family-based visas, it might be worth working with a professional immigration lawyer to help you navigate all of these hurdles.
As a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association for over 17 years, Jean Danhong Chen’s comprehensive knowledge of immigration law has earned her the confidence of numerous companies and individuals throughout the country. As a testimony to her success, she has had over 10,000 visa and green card case approvals across all 50 U.S. states.