By Lianne Holt-Jensen
Seattle University School of Law
On September 17th, 2012, Mitt Romney announced his platform to fix the “broken” immigration system. A part of his plan is to get rid of the diversity visa program in order to bring “families together”. On the surface this sounds like a great idea bringing families together should be a priority. Except that in immigration law, bringing families together is a priority, allowing immediate children, spouses and parents to immigrate to the United States. However, the problem with Mitt Romney’s plan is that family visas tend to be limited.
Family visas apply only to those with family who are United States citizens or legally permanent residents, residing in the United States. Even so, family is limited to a number of preferences. The first preference is for the unmarried sons and daughters of United States citizens; the second is for the spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of legally permanent residents; the third is for the married sons and daughters of United States citizens; and the fourth is the brother and sisters of over-21 United States citizens. Each preference is required to provide proof of relationship with the citizen or resident and subject to a long wait time before they can immigrate. An increase in family visas will most likely improve the process for those already benefitting from the program. These requirements are based on the assumption that there is a legal immediate relative that legally resides in the United States. Whereas, with a diversity visa, any winner can immigrate without having to prove a special skill, without having to pay tuition and without having to prove a legal relationship with a legal resident in America.
Diversity visas are primarily to allow people to emigrate from under-represented regions to the United States. The program allows a selection of 50,000 winners, based on a series of elaborate formulas, to immigrate to the United States annually. The benefit of the diversity visa program is to allow those from countries with low rates of immigration to immigrate, rather than relying on solely family or employment immigration. In most years, Europe and Asia have predominately received the greatest number of diversity visas, however now it is the reverse. Ridding the United States of the diversity visa program will limit the diversity among the immigrants entering the United States. It will also increase the reliance on family and employment visas, which are sometimes even more difficult to receive.
Though it sounds like a great idea to bring families together, these are still subject to limitations in immigration law. By getting rid of the diversity visa program, there will be less available options to those who want to immigrate to the United States.
Disclaimer: Guests posts do not necessarily express the viewpoint of the Law Office of Andre Olivie. Guests posts and blog posts are meant for general informational purposes only and not meant to be taken as legal-advice. Speak with an immigration attorney about legal advice specific to your situation.