Earlier this week, President Trump announced plans to radically overhaul the US immigration system, in order to limit legal immigration to the United States. It is reported that the proposed reforms will reduce immigration to the United States by 44% in 2018 and result in 22 million fewer immigrants over the next 5 decades.

The proposals include a plan to sharply curtail the right of US citizens to file immigrant visa petitions for the benefit of foreign national relatives and abolition of the Diversity Visa Lottery, in addition to building a border wall and implementation of additional security measures.

To put the proposals into context, approximately 1.1 million foreign nationals are expected to receive US Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card) status in fiscal year 2018. Under President Trump’s proposals, nearly half a million immigrants who are expected to be awarded Green Cards in fiscal year 2018 would not be eligible to receive Green Cards, under President Trump’s plans.

Family Immigration

Family Reunification is a Federal immigration policy approved by Congress over 50 years ago. As the name suggests, the purpose of the policy was to reunite families, by enabling US citizens and Green Card holders to file immigrant visa petitions for the benefit of close relatives residing in foreign countries, to enable them to obtain an Immigrant Visa to join the US citizen or Green Card holder in the United States.

Current Position

Under the current law, US citizens may file an immigrant visa petition for their:

  • Spouse
  • Son or daughter
  • Parent
  • Brother or sister

A US Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card holder) may file an immigrant visa petition for their:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried son or daughter

Upon successful attainment of an Immigrant Visa, the immigrant will become a US Lawful Permanent Resident and may then be eligible, in turn, to file an immigrant visa petition for any foreign national spouse and unmarried son or daughter, under the age of 21. Upon attainment of US citizenship, the immigrant may be eligible to file an immigrant visa petition for any of the relative categories listed above.

Family immigration is presently the most common form of legal immigration to the US. According to figures released by the US Department of Homeland Security, in 2016 566,706 immigrants to the US immigrated as the Immediate Relatives of US citizens (i.e. as the spouse, children or parents of a US citizen) and a further 238,087 immigrants immigrated under the family preference categories (i.e. as the siblings or non-dependent children of US citizens or the spouses or unmarried children of US Green Card holders). It is estimated that between 60-70% of all lawful, permanent immigration to the United States over the past decade has been based on family relationships.

President Trump’s Plans To Reform Family Immigration

The Trump Administration has expressed a desire to reform the law of family immigration, by radically limiting the right of US citizens to file immigrant visa petitions for the benefit of foreign relatives.

The Trump Administration wish to change US immigration law to allow US citizens to file immigrant visa petitions for their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 only, thereby spelling the end of the family preference visa categories as we know it, in particular, the right of US citizens to file immigrant visa petitions for the benefit of their parents, siblings or children over the age of 21.

The Trump Administration allege that so called “chain migration” has reduced the number of jobs available to US citizens and poses a risk to national security. However, these concerns are arguably entirely unfounded.

According to Forbes, 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants, resulting in the creation of thousands of US jobs and the generation of wealth and economic growth. Indeed, Apple, Google, eBay, Tesla and Uber were all founded or co-founded by an immigrant or a child of an immigrant and have made an immeasurable contribution to US society, both economically and socially.

Sadly, President Trump’s proposals appear to be a false economy and will be catastrophic for US citizens seeking family reunification. According to a study by the Cato Institute if President Trump’s proposals had already been implemented, they would have denied Green Cards to 174,000 parents, 67,000 siblings and 76,000 adult children of US citizens in fiscal year 2018.

Other Proposals

In addition to limiting family immigration, President Trump proposes to eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery, which awards 50,000 Green Cards annually to immigrants from countries with historically low rates of migration to the US.

The Diversity Visa Lottery plays an instrumental role in promoting ethnic diversity in the US and is well-regarded by many social commentators for facilitating the “American Dream”. Its loss will be met with much sadness in US immigration law circles.

Our View

At Davies Legal Immigration, we are extremely disappointed by President Trump’s plans to reform family immigration and abolish the Diversity Visa Lottery.

We believe the right of US citizens and US Lawful Permanent Residents to file immigrant visa petitions for the benefit of close relatives is of paramount importance in a socially inclusive society and integral to the fabric of the United States. We hope the policy of family reunification will be upheld by Congress, so family-based immigrants can continue to contribute to US society through enterprise, job creation and the generation of wealth.

Similarly, we are saddened by President Trump’s proposals to abolish the Diversity Visa Lottery, which has promoted ethnic diversity in the US for decades and provided a wealth of opportunities to migrants inspired to achieve the “American Dream”. We will monitor developments and endeavor to keep you updated.

Davies Legal Immigration

At Davies Legal Immigration, we provide advice and representation in connection with all types of family based immigration, both Immediate Relative and Family Preference. We offer innovative immigration solutions and a comprehensive service at a competitive fixed fee and undertake to keep you informed.  Call now for a complimentary assessment of eligibility with a licensed US immigration attorney.

Published: 4th February 2018