People attempting to move to the United States legally can often end up waiting more than ten years for a green card, a waiting period that lies at the heart of the heated debate as to whether or not the 11 million undocumented immigrants who currently live in the country illegally should be given a path to official citizenship as a part of the immigration reform bill that is currently before the US Senate.
As of November 1st last year there were over 4.4 million people waiting to get a green card, according to a report from the US State Department, 1.3 million of whom come from Mexico, although immigration experts believe that the figure could actually be a good deal higher as the State Department fails to count immigrants who already live in the United States but have applications for green cards still pending.
The wait is so long due to the fact that the United States puts a limit on the amount of green cards that can be issued in a year. The country also restricts the amount of green cards that can be given in a year to immigrants who come from the same country.
The immigration reform bill that is currently being debated in the Senate is an attempt at a political compromise, granting temporary provisional legal status to undocumented immigrants but requiring them to have to wait in line, possibly for more than a decade, before they could put in a green card application.