The insanely confusing path to legal immigration, in one chart

January 29, 2013

Congress and the White House have just begun exploring policies that would revamp the country's immigration laws. A bipartisan group of senators have proposed a new pathway to citizenship Monday and, later Tuesday, President Obama is expected to unveil his own reform plan.

Those are all ideas for the future - but what does our immigration system look like right now? A few years ago, Immigration Road put together this flowchart on how to gain a green card (which might be a bit easier on your eyes if you view as a PDF here).

While this likely does not make understanding our immigration system any easier, it does give a sense of how complicated the process is right now. A job opportunity in the United States puts a potential immigrant on one track; a relative in America kicks off a completely separate process. Marriage status, age and ability to invest can all play a role. Reason has put together a similar flowchart which shows how the process can take as many as 28 years to complete.

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Brad Plumer · January 29, 2013