No, not Gollum’s ring but the precious metals diamond and gold that are likened to US citizenship and lawful permanent residency, respectively.
There are other precious metals – platinum, palladium, rhodium, et al. – but these are aptly called industrial metals. Diamond, gold and silver are coinage metals, coveted because of the status they confer to whoever owns or uses them.
The rarer the precious metal, the more expensive and dangerous the procurement or even prospecting becomes. Remember the “Blood Diamonds” movie?
During the Sierra Leone Civil War in 1991 to 2002, warlords, insurgents and even government forces competed to seize areas that were believed to have diamond deposits. The death and destruction involved in getting this rare precious metal from the earth is why the blood diamonds got the name.
Before the large-scale production of the second most precious metal during the California Gold Rush in 1848, gold mining had become prevalent in North Carolina and Virginia. But none captured America’s attention – and the world’s as well – as when gold was found at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California and brought 300,000 people from the rest of the United States and abroad.
Before the US kept immigration records in 1820, close to 2 million immigrants from Germany, Britain, France and Ireland went to the United States escaping persecution and poverty.
With the end of the US-Mexican war in 1848, about 60,000 Mexicans found diamonds in New Mexico and California. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo extended US citizenship to those who were already in these two states.
Foreign nationals later discovered gold all over the United States when the Alien Registration Act was passed in 1940 requiring the fingerprinting of foreign-born persons 14 years of age and older as part of their registration confirming their lawful residence in the United States.
The green card was born and prospecting for gold boomed.
In November 2020, the State Department issued its report on the total number of green card prospectors.
Next month, the four countries with the greatest number of gold prospectors were in such numbers that they have to get in line before they can get hold of the green card and only after being issued their immigrant visas.
Visa bulletin for August 2021
The following chart shows the interview dates of immigrant visa applicants from the four countries. The interview dates are officially listed in the State Department’s Visa Bulletin as “Chart A, Final Dates.”
Given the per country allocation and the huge backlog that was created by the twin towers of disaster (Covid-19 and Trump), it will take at least 16 months for the current immigrant visa applicants who are already documentarily qualified waiting for their interview.
Despite having increased the number of cases that National Visa Center staff had been able to schedule for interviews at consular offices abroad, the number of applicants ready for interview continued to pile up from April until this month based on the monthly report of the State Department.
The continued increase in the number of immigrant visa applicants still pending scheduling of an interview is due to the State Department’s move to keep consular officers, staff, and the visa applicants themselves to move and travel safely.
This is reflected in the number of calendar days visa applicants in the three nonimmigrant categories would have to wait at the consulates in Mexico City, Manila, New Delhi and Beijing.
At the time of writing, the Covid-19 cases in the countries where the consulates above are located illustrate the basis for the visa appointment times (Johns Hopkins Covid Resource Center).
China statistics are unverified, not shared, just like the report on the source of the virus whether from the lab or from the wet market.
How many are you competing with for that immigrant visa interview?
Four months before the World Health Organization declared the pandemic that turned the world upside down, disrupting travel plans and migration patterns, the US State Department issued a report on how many individuals all over the world were waiting for the issuance of their immigrant visas.
Mexico was first place on the list of top 10 countries with the highest number of green card prospectors: 1,224,062, a third of the world’s total. The Philippines was a distant second with 318,481.
Two of the next eight countries – India and China – are consistently reported as oversubscribed nations with more immigrant visa applicants than are available within the per country limits.
The total number of immigrant visa applicants from India (in both the family and employment-based categories) was 309,758. China had 247,389.
For the past 20 years, Mexico, the Philippines, India and China have been the four countries whose immigrant visa applicants have to wait for up to 20 years (in the F4 – brothers and sisters of US citizens) to have their chance to appear in person before a consular officer at the designated consular post.
The main visa-issuing visas in these countries are in Mexico City, Manila, New Delhi and Beijing. The numbers below, the cut-off dates for each country show how many visa applicants in each category are waiting for their interviews (from the State Department November 2020 report).
Immigrant visa applicants in the employment-based categories are dominated by India while the immigrant investor visa applicants are mostly from China.
Clearly, the Covid-19 situation determines whether the embassies and visa-issuing posts will resume operations and normal visa services.
If citizens in these countries do not follow the quarantine protocols, then the immigrant visa backlog report will continue to increase.
Moral of the story for green card prospectors: “Kung gustong mag-hukay, mag-comply.”