Many people who apply for visas to come to the United States face an excruciatingly long wait time. That's because under U.S. immigration law, only a certain number of immigrants are allowed into the country each year and there is a huge backlog of applicants waiting for approval.
During the fiscal year 2014, a maximum of 226,000 people will be granted family-based visas and about 150,000 people will be granted employment-based visas. Currently, there are 4.2 million family-based visa applicants in line, and this doesn't even include people who are already in the country, such as refugees and students.
A person's country of origin can also affect the wait time for visa approval, either for better or worse. That's because under U.S. immigration law, there is a limit on how many people can emigrate from each country during a given year.
In countries like Mexico and the Philippines with extremely high numbers of visa applicants, the wait time can take years because of the huge backlog of applicants. However, people from countries with few visa applicants face a shorter waiting period.
Another factor that affects the wait time is the type of visa being applied for. A highly-skilled worker applying for an employment-based visa may face a wait time of mere months. However, the adult child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident could face a wait time of many years.
Applying for a visa -- no matter what type of visa it is -- can be a confusing and frustrating process which is why many people rely on the knowledge of an experienced immigration law attorney for guidance.
Source: ABC News, "Long Waits for Would-Be-Immigrants, Not for Others," David Crary, Jan. 4, 2014