How many immigrants are
admitted to the United States every year?
By statute, Congress has placed a limit on the number of
foreign-born individuals who are admitted to the United States
annually as family-based or employment-based immigrants or as
is limited by statute to 480,000 persons per year.
Family-based immigration is governed by a formula that imposes a cap
on every family-based immigration category, with the exception of
"immediate relatives" (spouses, minor unmarried
children, and parents of U.S. citizens).
The formula allows unused employment-based immigration visas in one
year to be dedicated to family-based immigration the following year,
and unused family-based immigration visas in one year to be added to
the cap the next year. This formula means that there are slight
variations from year to year in family-based immigration. Because of
the numerical cap, there are long waiting periods to obtain a visa
in most of the family-based immigrant categories.
There is no numerical
cap on the number of immediate relatives (spouses, minor
unmarried children and parents of U.S. citizens) admitted annually
to the U.S. as immigrants. However, the number of immediate
relatives are subtracted from the 480,000 cap on family-based
immigration to determine the number of other family-based immigrants
to be admitted in the following year (with a floor of 226,000).
immigration is limited by statute to 140,000 persons per year. In
most cases, before the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
will issue an employment-based immigrant visa to a foreign-born
individual, the employer first must obtain a "labor
certification" from the U.S. Department of Labor confirming
that there are an insufficient number of U.S. workers able,
qualified and willing to perform the work for which the foreign-born
individual is being hired.
The Department of Labor also must confirm that employment of the
foreign-born individual will not adversely affect the wages and
working conditions of U.S. workers. The labor certification process
takes an average of 2 years to complete.
The United States
accepts only a limited number of refugees from around the
world each year. This number is determined every year by the
President in consultation with Congress. The total number of annual
"refugee slots" are divided among different regions of the
world. In fiscal year 1998, 78,000 refugees were permitted to come
to the U.S.