San Diego Law Review

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



In this Article, Professor Guendelsberger examines the provisions of American immigration law that impede the entry of immediate family members of permanent resident aliens. It focuses particularly on the numerical limitations - the annual ceiling and the per-country ceiling on preference category visas - which force applicants from countries of high immigration demand to wait for long periods of time before visas become available. As a result, spouses and minor children of some permanent resident aliens enter immediately, while those from countries like Mexico or the Philippines must wait as long as eight years. The situation is further exacerbated by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The author analyzes the provisions of the Act affecting family unification and examines the constitutionality of the numerical limitations on visa allocation. In conclusion, family unity is such an essential components of individual liberty that provisions of immigration law should interfere with that right no more than is necessary to meet compelling national interests. In the alternative, Congress should eliminate the numerical ceilings on entry of the spouses and minor children of permanent resident aliens on humanitarian and constitutional grounds.