U.S. Immigration Policy on Permanent Admissions [Updated July 1, 2005]   [open pdf - 118KB]

"When President George W. Bush announced his principles for immigration reform in January 2004, he included an increase in permanent immigration as a key component. Some commentators are speculating the President is promoting increases in the employment-based categories of permanent immigration, but the Bush Administration has not yet provided specific information on what categories of permanent admissions it advocates should be increased and by what levels. President Bush recently stated that immigration reform is a top priority of his second term and is prompting a lively debate on the issue. Bills to revise permanent admissions are being introduced, but only one has had legislative action thus far in the 109th Congress. A provision in P.L. 109-13 (H.R. 1268, the emergency FY2005 supplemental appropriation) makes up to 50,000 employment-based visas available for foreign nationals coming to work as medical professionals. Four major principles underlie U.S. policy on permanent immigration: the reunification of families, the admission of immigrants with needed skills, the protection of refugees, and the diversity of admissions by country of origin. These principles are embodied in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The INA specifies a complex set of numerical limits and preference categories that give priorities for permanent immigration reflecting these principles. As defined in the INA, 'immigrants' are synonymous with legal permanent residents (LPRs) and refer to foreign nationals who live lawfully and permanently in the United States. During FY2004, a total of 946,142 aliens became LPRs in the United States."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL32235
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