Petitioning private caregivers not a good option for senior immigrants
Jane became a naturalized US citizen in 2012 and immediately petitioned her elderly parents to live in the States.
In 2013, Jane’s parents arrived in the US and resided with her. The first year of their residence in the US with Jane was pleasant as the family traveled together to various places in California.
However, in 2014, Jane’s mother suffered a stroke and needed full-time care. She was not able to get medical insurance for her mother so she paid all the medical expenses.
Jane has a full-time job and has minor children. Since she barely had the time to attend to her mother, her father took care of her ailing mother.
Jane’s father began to noticeably lose weight and was not getting enough sleep from taking care of her mother. To relieve her father’s stress, Jane moved her mother into a senior health-care facility to have a full-time caretaker. Two weeks after her mother moved to the facility, her father suffered a heart attack and passed away.
Jane wants her mother moved back into her home. Instead of having a nonrelative take care of her mother, Jane prefers to have a relative be her mother’s caregiver.
Petitioning for caregivers
Jane wants to petition her relative in the Philippines who graduated from a nursing school. How long will this take?
Under the present US immigration system, caregivers fall under the third preference employment-based category “other workers.”
As of December 2015, only petitions filed on or before Aug. 1, 2007 in this category are being processed. Thus, if a petition for a caregiver is filed in 2015, there will be an approximate wait of seven to eight years before the caregiver will be processed for a visa.
By that time, the elderly immigrant may no longer be around to benefit from the presence of a caregiver. This lengthy process is a result of the severe backlog in the employment based petitions for nonprofessional workers.
This situation is analogous to family-based petitions where an elderly parent who is a green-card holder files a petition for an adult child. The petition falls under the second preference family-based category, and to date, only petitions that were filed in December 2004 are being processed. For a recently filed petition, the wait could be nine to 10 years for it to be current. As in most cases, the elderly petitioner passes away before the visa is available.
Filipino immigrant families usually prefer to care for their elderly in their homes. Also, most seniors would prefer to have their child or a relative take care of them. Unfortunately, the reality is that the US immigration system is broken and the matter of giving priority to caregivers of senior citizens is yet to be addressed. Until then, elderly immigrants will need to rely on alternative system of care such as social services groups or nonprofit organizations among others.
(The author may be reached at [email protected], facebook.com/tancincolaw, www.tancinco.com or  721-1963 or 1-888-930-0808.)
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