One of the most familiar (and frustrating) misconceptions about the 11 million undocumented residents of the U.S. is that they’ve failed to “stand in line” to receive legal immigration status. The Washington Post tackles the five misconceptions about this idea today in their “Five Myths” column.
There are four family-based categories for many relatives, called “preferences,” and five based on employment. The number of green cards issued through each is limited by country of origin, but there is no cap for “immediate relatives” — spouses of U.S. citizens, U.S. citizens’ unmarried children under age 21 and parents of adult U.S. citizens over 21.
Immigrants and their lawyers track their “place in line” in the State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin, which lists cut-off dates for each preference and country. For example, the February 2013 bulletin lists EB-1 “priority workers” — superstars in their fields, such as rock stars and neurosurgeons — as “current,” meaning they are likely to wait just the four to six months it takes to prepare visa paperwork and schedule a consular interview.
2. Anyone can get in line.
3. Once you are in line, the wait is not too long.
4. If you broke the law, it’s only fair that you get at the back of the line.
5. There’s no way to make the line any shorter.