Permanent Legal Immigration to the United States: Policy Overview [October 29, 2014]   [open pdf - 417KB]

"In FY2013, just under 1 million aliens became U.S. legal permanent residents (LPRs). Of this total, 65.6% entered the United States on the basis of family ties. Other major categories of LPRs were employment-based (16.3%), refugees and asylees (12.1%), and diversity migrants (4.6%). […] Most agree that revision of the system of permanent legal immigration should be one of the major components of a comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) proposal, along with increased border security and enforcement of immigration laws within the U.S. interior, reform of temporary worker visas, and options to address the millions of unauthorized aliens residing in the country. Congress is considering proposals to alter the legal immigration system--either in the form of CIR or in the form of incremental revisions aimed at strategic changes. Some are advocating for a significant reallocation of the visa categories or a substantial increase in legal immigration to satisfy the desire of U.S. families to reunite with their relatives abroad and to meet the labor force needs of employers hiring foreign workers. Yet, proponents of family-based migration maintain that any proposal to increase immigration should also include the option of additional family-based visas to reduce waiting times--currently up to years or decades--for those already 'in the queue.' Arguing against these competing priorities for increased immigration are those who favor reduced immigration, including proposals to limit family-based LPRs to the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, to confine employment-based LPRs to highly skilled workers, and to eliminate the diversity visas."

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CRS Report for Congress, R42866
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