The Reason Foundation recently released a great analysis of the country’s immigration system. The article comes with a chart, showing just how complex (and at times impossible) it can be to navigate our country’s complex immigration law.

The immigration debate is often reduced to – why don’t immigrants just get in line and come into this country legally? If only it were that simple.

A new chart details how complicated the immigration maze is, demonstrating the countless requirements that must be met, and the red tape that must be navigated, by everyone from English soccer star David Beckham to an Indian engineer.

What’s the best-case immigration scenario? Five or six years: If you are the spouse or a minor child of a U.S. citizen, you should be able to enter the country and get a green card. Then, after three to five years, you can apply to become a citizen.

The worst case scenario? You are an unskilled worker hoping to make a better life for yourself in America. “Unlike previous periods in our history, there is virtually no process for unskilled immigrants without family relations in the U.S. to apply for permanent legal residence,” the chart by Reason Foundation and the National Foundation for American Policy states.

Unskilled workers just have to hope they get lucky. That’s because only 10,000 green cards are given to these workers each year and “the wait time approaches infinity.” Skilled workers may have better chances, but still face strict caps, thousands of dollars in fees, and an 11 to 16 year wait to obtain a green card and gain U.S. citizenship.

“Our country’s immigration system is broken,” says Shikha Dalmia, a senior policy analyst at Reason Foundation and one of the chart’s authors. “Workers with family already here or college degrees face a convoluted, cruel and uncertain process. And they are the lucky ones. For poor laborers, who pick our crops and build our homes, there is virtually no legal process and no ‘line’ to wait in if they hope to permanently work and live in this country.”

You should definitely check out the cartoon version of the chart. Funny (and true) stuff.

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