Is The End of Immigration Near for Parents, Adult Children, and Siblings of US Citizens?

The media has written about “chain immigration” lately, and it has been doing so for good reason. In the past few weeks, prominent Republican congressmen have proposed a massive change to chain immigration. The effect of the proposed change, if it becomes law, would be massive. There are a lot of noise surrounding immigration and it’s important to separate the signal from the noise, so indulge our desire to repetitive: the effect of the proposed change to immigration, if it becomes law, will be massive. For millions of people who believe they are well-positioned to get a Green Card, the effect of the changes will be life-changing, dream-shattering.

What is the change? Congressional Republicans (and White House) appear intent on quickly killing chain immigration as part of a deal to give lawful status to DREAMers. Democrats want to give lawful status to DREAMers as soon as possible, but certainly before March 2018. It is certainly conceivable that chain immigration will be substantially changed before March 2018.

A prominent Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, a leading voice on immigration, noted on the Senate floor that the bill he supports to give DREAMers lawful status would ensure, among other things that should make non-citizens shudder, that “[f]rom the day this bill becomes law, immigrants will only be able to bring their spouses and minor children into the country.”  Presumably, he also means that immigrants who are already in the US will not be able to adjust status based on their family relationship if they are not the spouse or minor child of the petitioner.

Currently, parents of US citizens, adult children of US citizens, and siblings of US citizens can all get permanent residence based on their family ties. Should a provision like Grassley’s become law, none of those groups will have a path to permanent resident based on their family ties.

How likely are these changes to occur? The short answer is that these changes do not appear unlikely to occur. However, different political prognosticators may offer a very different opinion on this.

Congressional Republicans are pushing to curtail chain immigration and the White House is behind them. It appears likely that Republicans will want a scalp to take home, something significant, in return for codifying into law protection for DREAMers. Substantially curtailing chain immigration might end up being that scalp. While it has been floated that substantial enhancements to border security will be that scalp, it does not appear that substantial enhancements to border security will be substantial enough. Of course, time will tell.

But, the takeaway of all this should be clear: if you can begin the family-based immigration process now, you may want to re-examine your reasons for why you not now pressing forward.