U.S. Immigration Policy on Permanent Admissions [Updated September 12, 2007]   [open pdf - 264KB]

"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. President Bush has stated that immigration reform is a top priority of his second term and has prompted a lively debate on the issue. Thus far in the 110th Congress, a variety of bills (H.R. 75, H.R. 938, H.R. 1645, S. 1038/H.R. 1930, S. 1348, and S. 1639) would revise categories for permanent admissions. […] Four major principles underlie current 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. Legal permanent residents (LPRs) refer to foreign nationals who live permanently in the United States. […] Significant backlogs are due to the sheer volume of aliens eligible to immigrate to the United States. Citizens and LPRs first file petitions for their relatives. After the petitions are processed, these relatives then wait for a visa to become available through the numerically limited categories. The siblings of U.S. citizens are waiting 11 years. Prospective LPRs from the Philippines have the most substantial waiting times; consular officers are now considering the petitions of the brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens from the Philippines who filed more than 22 years ago."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL32235
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