Visualizing Immigration Data

4/2017

I’ve been thinking a lot about immigration and visa processing, due in part to my own experience with it while applying for my husband’s green card. I have found myself frustrated at some of the small, seemingly arbitrary processes that happen along the way, and how those small things create sometimes unnecessary stress for applicants.

One of the more frustrating things for me is trying to get a clear estimate on the amount of time it takes for a citizen to petition the government for visas for their immediate family members. Due to visa quotas and increasing demand from people around the world to immigrate to the US, it takes a very long time for people to bring their families over to the US legally. Sibling visas for certain countries can take more than 20 years to go through the process. There is so much that can seem arbitrary in processing speed.

USCIS has made strides to make the system more transparent, yet there still is more that can be illuminated. This app I’ve made works to add more information about past action in processing I-130 visa applications, and how many priority dates a particular Country & Preference Category moved ahead in a particular month. This can help me better understand if rates have historically been speeding up, slowing down, or remaining the same. I look forward to comments, critiques, and suggestions for future development – this is my first try working with Shiny in R.

You can access the app here.