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Abstract

As the American immigration system presently operates, various incongruities exist for those seeking to permanently immigrate to the United States. Requirements and processing times differ greatly depending on an individual's home country and the type of relationship the individual has with a U.S. sponsor (e.g., familial vs. employment based). For example, as of December 2016, the most recent application under review for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens from the Philippines is from May 22, 1993, while the EB-5's employment-based visa processing date for investors from the Philippines is listed as "Current." Consider the hypotheticals of Maria Guinto and Maricris Llamador Gunigundo:

Maria Guinto is a 32-year-old woman from the Philippines. Her only brother, Erik Lumaban, is a United States citizen. Erik is the only family that Maria has left, as her parents were killed in a car accident when she and Erik were both very young and neither of her parents had any brothers or sisters. Thus, Maria wishes to join her brother and his wife in the United States and to become a U.S. citizen herself To do so, Maria must prove that she has a qualifying family relationship. In this case, the fact that Maria is the sister of a U.S. citizen places her in the fourth family-sponsored preference. As such, Maria will wait over twenty years for her turn to obtain a legal immigrant visa. This does not include the time it will take U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process her application, which can be up to sixteen months, or longer, depending on the volume of applications.

On the other hand, Maricris Llamador Gunigundo, a wealthy Filipino investor, has made his fortune by constructing and operating high-end hotels in and around the Philippines. Maricris is an avid traveler and frequently travels to the United States on vacation. However, Maricris is unhappy with the amount of time it takes for him to obtain visitor visas to the United States and with the lines he must stand in when entering the country. Thus, Maricris decided that he would like to obtain an American green card to enter and exit the United States more easily. He then decided that he is willing to invest the required $1 million in a new commercial enterprise in the United States. This investment will qualify Maricris for the fifth employment-based category, or an EB-5 visa. As such, USCIS will review Maricris's application immediately, though he may experience some wait time for USCIS to actually process his application.

This hypothetical illustrates just one of many discrepancies that exist in the American immigration system today and highlights the unfair advantages that the very wealthy are provided over those seeking to join their families here in the United States. As such, the United States should alter its immigration system by reallocating the EB-5 employment-based visas and all diversity lottery visas to the family-sponsored category in order to increase the number of visas granted to family members of lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens each year.

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