What is Chain Migration?

The term “chain migration” has been in the news as of late. Donald Trump has ardently vowed to put an end to what he has dubbed a “horrible” system of chain migration. But what exactly is chain migration, and is it as bad as our nation’s top leader has made it out to be?

The Basics of Chain Migration

In its most rudimentary sense, chain migration is a term used to describe a situation in which migrants from a particular place follow other migrants to a particular destination. As it is being used in reference to the United States’ immigration and immigration policy, “chain migration” refers to the fact that U.S. immigration laws allow U.S. green card holders and residents the ability to sponsor family members from their home countries. It is often also referred to as “family reunification,” as explained in an article published by CBS News.

Family Reunification in the United States

As explained by NPR’s John Burnett, family reunification is the visa program that allows immigrants already living within the United States to bring family over. Essentially, visas are granted according to the family tree, primarily serving green card holders and their spouses and minor children. Once citizenship is granted, which is a process that can take years, then the individual can try to bring over married children, parents, and siblings.

Are There Any Limits on Family Reunification-Related Visas?

Those with family ties do not have a free ticket to the U.S., and to imply so is misleading. To start, there are no family visas for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or in-laws. What is more, in addition to paying for visa application fees – all those who want to come to the United States, regardless of their familial relations, must apply – individuals must also prove that they have the means to support themselves financially upon their arrival. Of course, the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country under each immigrant category is capped. For example, there are only 65,000 visas available for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, as well as spouses and minor children.

So Why Does Trump Want to End Chain Migration?

Trump has been firm in his stance on immigration and chain migration, explaining that he believes that the family reunification system takes jobs and opportunities away from other, more qualified immigrants (and United States citizens). The president also claims that chain migration threatens national security. To quote the White House, “The large influx of predominantly low-skilled migrants has had substantial fiscal and national security consequences.”

Instead of chain migration, the president supports a merit-based immigration system that would prioritize educated, English-speaking migrants.

Get Help with the Immigration Process

If you are an immigrant who is living within the United States, either legally or illegally, and have questions about the immigration process or about bringing family members to the United States, we can help. Our Nashville immigration attorneys are passionate about protecting the rights of immigrants to our country and making sure you understand the laws relevant to your migration. Please call us today for your consultation, or send us a message. We speak Spanish.

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