Unites States Immigration Laws: The Literature


Hi Guys and a happy Christmas Eve to all the folks celebrating or observing this holiday. As the year comes to an end, I wanted to focus on a literature piece following the reflection pieces on style (See HERE) and travel (See HERE). As many Americans know, President Trump signed the new tax bill into law last week and it should it take effect soon. There is a lot of debate in the media about the pros and cons of its literature and I am left wondering what this reform truly means for families like us AND corporations. Folks who are interested in my views on what a tax plan should include, please read my post from earlier in the year. (See HERE).

There are so many issues concerning Americans today-job growth, health care, tax reform (check), and national security being among the top concerns. And I see one basic mistake–lack of misinformed or “under” informed individuals trying to figure out what laws the Congress are really passing, what does President Trump really mean when he is saying things or tweeting, AND what in the world does media mean when they say the word “bipartisan”?

President Trump has commented that the next task after Tax Reform is to focus on America’s infrastructure, which includes welfare programs, which SHOULD include ignored and underrepresented groups of immigrants such as the “Dreamers” minors. Given the confusing and polarizing nature of American media, I decided to do a little research on the current U.S. immigration law and dissect what its literature really mean and need. To learn where I think we need to start, please read my earlier post (See HERE).

Read this expert from the American Immigration Council, “Currently, U.S. immigration law is very complex, and there is much confusion as to how it works. The Immigration and Naturalization Act, the body of law governing current immigration policy, provides for an annual worldwide limit of 675,000 permanent immigrants (meaning Green Card holders), with certain exceptions for close family members. Lawful permanent residency (a Green Card holder) allows a foreign national to work and live lawfully and permanently in the United States. Lawful permanent residents are eligible to apply for nearly all jobs (i.e., jobs not legitimately restricted to U.S. citizens) and can remain in the country even if they are unemployed. Each year the United States also admits non-citizens (and non-Green Card Holders) on a temporary basis (this may include travel visas). Annually, Congress and the President determine a separate number for refugee admissions.”

Simple enough, right? Not really. It gets complicated as you read on, “Immigration to the United States is based upon the following principles: the reunification of families, admitting immigrants with skills that are valuable to the U.S. economy, protecting refugees, and promoting diversity.” This means that immigrants are allowed inside on a case-by-case basis. To reiterate; the following individuals/families are granted visas:

I. Family Based Immigration

The family-based immigration category allows U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents to bring certain family members to the United States. Family-based immigrants are admitted either as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or through the family preference system.

Prospective immigrants under the immediate relatives’ category must meet standard eligibility criteria, and sponsors must meet certain age and financial requirements. Immediate relatives are:

  • spouses of U.S. citizens;
  • unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens (under 21-years-old); and
  • parents of U.S. citizens (petitioner must be at least 21-years-old to petition for a parent).

The preference system includes:

  • adult children (married and unmarried) and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (petitioner must be at least 21-years-old to petition for a sibling), and
  • spouses and unmarried children (minor and adult) of Permanent Residents.

This is where it gets complicated and confusing. In order to balance the overall number of familial immigrants arriving based on family relationships, Congress established a number starting with 480,000 that gets subtracted as the number of immediate relative visas issued during the previous year and the number of aliens “paroled” into the U.S. during the previous year (I am confused about the “paroled” aliens myself). Any unused employment preference immigrant numbers from the preceding year are then added to this sum to establish the number of visas that remain for allocation through the preference system (this is very confusing because why are employment visas and family preference visas under one category?). The explanation continues… “However, by law, the number of family-based visas allocated through the preference system may not be lower than 226,000. In reality, due to large numbers of immediate relatives, the actual number of preference system visas available each year has been 226,000. Consequently, the total number of family-based visas often exceeds 480,000.” I am baffled by this fact as well. This is where all the current issues with immigration are taking place because those folks who are “immediate family”, are “minors”,  and fit all the eligibility criteria can’t get a status because of the familial preference allocation. I think we need to stick strictly to numbers.

The family-based immigration system is summarized in Table 1 further highlights the problem.

Table 1: Family-Based Immigration System

Category U.S. Sponsor Relationship Numerical Limit

Immediate Relatives


U.S. Citizen adults

Spouses, unmarried minor children, and parents  


Preference allocation 
1 U.S. citizen Unmarried adult children 23,400*
2A LPR Spouses and minor children 87,900
2B LPR Unmarried adult children 26,300
3 U.S. citizen Married adult children 23,400**
4 U.S. citizen Brothers and Sisters 65,000***
* Plus any unused visas from the 4th preference.

** Plus any unused visas from 1st and 2nd preference.

***Plus any unused visas from the all other family-based preferences.

Worldwide level of family preference allocation: 480,000 minus visas issued to immediate relatives and parolees, plus unused employment-visas from the previous fiscal year. Floor for preference categories: 226,000.

II. Employment-Based Immigration

The United States provides various ways for immigrants with valuable skills to come to the country on either a Permanent or a Temporary basis.

Temporary Visa Classifications

Temporary employment-based visa classifications permit employers to hire and petition for foreign nationals for specific jobs for limited periods. Most temporary workers must work for the employer that petitioned for them and have limited ability to change jobs. The visa classifications vary in terms of their eligibility requirements, duration, whether they permit workers to bring dependents, and other factors. In most cases, they must leave the United States if their status expires or if their employment is terminated.

Permanent Immigration

The overall numerical limit for permanent employment-based immigrants is 140,000 per year. This number includes the immigrants, their eligible spouses and minor unmarried children, meaning the actual number of employment-based immigrants is less than 140,000 each year. The 140,000 visas are divided into five preference categories, detailed in Table 2.

Table 2: Permanent Employment-Based Preference System

Preference Category Eligibility Yearly Numerical Limit
1 “Persons of extraordinary ability” in the arts, science, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers, multinational executives and managers.  


2 Members of the professions holding advanced degrees, or persons of exceptional abilities in the arts, science, or business.  


3 Skilled workers with at least two years of training or experience, professionals with college degrees, or “other” workers for unskilled labor that is not temporary or seasonal.  



“Other” unskilled laborers restricted to 5,000

4 Certain “special immigrants” including religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, former U.S. government employees and other classes of aliens.  


5 Persons who will invest $500,000 to $1 million in a job-creating enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time U.S. workers.  


*Plus any unused visas from the 4th and 5th preferences.

**Plus any unused visas from the 1st preference.

***Plus any unused visas from the 1st and 2nd preference.

Worldwide level of employment-based immigrants: 140,000 for principle applicants and their dependents.

III. Per-Country Ceilings

In addition to the numerical limits placed upon the various immigration preferences, there is also a limit on how many immigrants can come to the United States from any one country. Currently, no group of permanent immigrants (family-based and employment-based) from a single country can exceed seven percent of the total amount of people immigrating to the United States in a single fiscal year. This is not a quota to ensure that certain nationalities make up seven percent of immigrants, but rather a limit that is set to prevent any immigrant group from dominating immigration patterns to the United States. This is where controversies have been created with bills proposed as the “Muslim Ban”. So one begs the question, is the ban unconstitutional or just another form of law for non-Americans not protected under the Constitution, like healthcare for non-Americans?

IV. Refugees and Asylees

Protection of Refugees, Asylees, and other Vulnerable Populations

There are several categories of legal admission available to people who are fleeing persecution or are unable to return to their homeland due to life-threatening or extraordinary conditions.

Refugees are admitted to the United States based upon an inability to return to their home countries because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to their race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin. Refugees apply for admission from outside of the United States, generally from a “transition country” that is outside their home country. The admission of refugees turns on numerous factors, such as the degree of risk they face, membership in a group that is of special concern to the United States (designated yearly by the President of the United States and Congress), and whether or not they have family members in the United States.

Each year the President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions. The total limit is broken down into limits for each region of the world as well.

Table 3: Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions, FY 2016

Africa 25,000
East Asia 13,000
Europe and Central Asia 4,000
Latin America/Caribbean 3,000
Near East/South Asia 34,000
Unallocated Reserve 6,000
TOTAL 85,000

Asylum is available to persons already in the United States who are seeking protection based on the same five protected grounds upon which refugees rely. They may apply at a port of entry at the time they seek admission or within one year of arriving in the United States. There is no limit on the number of individuals who may be granted asylum in a given year nor are there specific categories for determining who may seek asylum.

Refugees and asylees are eligible to become Permanent Residents one year after admission to the United States as a refugee or one year after receiving asylum.

IV. The Diversity Visa Program

The Diversity Visa lottery was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 as a dedicated channel for immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Although originally intended to favor immigration from Ireland (during the first three years of the program at least 40 percent of the visas were exclusively allocated to Irish immigrants), the Diversity Visa program has become one of the only avenues for individuals from certain regions in the world to secure a green card. People from eligible countries in different continents may register for the lottery. However, because these visas are distributed on a regional basis, the program especially benefits Africans and Eastern Europeans.

To be eligible for a diversity visa, an immigrant must have a high-school education (or its equivalent) or have, within the past five years, a minimum of two years working in a profession requiring at least two years of training or experience. Spouses and minor unmarried children of the principal applicant may also enter as dependents. A computer-generated random lottery drawing chooses selectees for diversity visas. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration, and with no visas going to nationals of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States over the last five years. This program/law may help support the Muslim Ban proposed by President Trump on the basis of whether or not large groups of folks come from Muslim countries.

V. Other Forms of Humanitarian Relief

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is granted to people who are in the United States but cannot return to their home country because of “natural disaster,” “extraordinary temporary conditions,” or “ongoing armed conflict.” TPS is granted to a country for six, 12, or 18 months and can be extended beyond that if unsafe conditions in the country persist. TPS does not necessarily lead to LPR status or confer any other immigration status.

Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) provides protection from deportation for individuals whose home countries are unstable, therefore making return dangerous. Unlike TPS, which is authorized by statute, DED is at the discretion of the executive branch. DED does not necessarily lead to LPR status or confer any other immigration status.

Certain individuals may be allowed to enter the U.S. through parole, even though they may not meet the definition of a refugee and may not be eligible to immigrate through other channels. Parolees may be admitted temporarily for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.

Well guys, here is our current immigration plan. Honestly, I am unsure why there are so many other obscure visa/immigration plans/laws I hear about in the media. The intentions for these programs are valid and good, but given national security is our concern, these programs just complicate and legalize those folks that shouldn’t come into this country. Please read through the literature and give some feedback. Happy Reading!!

Shown Here:
Introduced in Senate (07/20/2017)

Dream Act of 2017

This bill directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to cancel removal and grant lawful permanent resident status on a conditional basis to an alien who is inadmissible or deportable or is in temporary protected status who: (1) has been continuously physically present in the United States for four years preceding this bill’s enactment; (2) was younger than 18 years of age on the initial date of U.S. entry; (3) is not inadmissible on criminal, security, terrorism, or other grounds; (4) has not participated in persecution; (5) has not been convicted of specified federal or state offenses; and (6) has fulfilled specified educational requirements.

DHS shall cancel the removal of, and adjust to the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence on a conditional basis, an alien who was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status unless the alien has engaged in conduct that would make the alien ineligible for DACA.

DHS may not: (1) grant conditional permanent resident status without the submission of biometric and background data, and completion of background and medical checks; and (2) disclose or use information provided in applications filed under this bill or in DACA requests for immigration enforcement purposes.

The bill prescribes the conditions under which DHS: (1) may terminate a person’s conditional permanent resident status, and (2) shall adjust a person’s conditional status to permanent resident status.

The bill: (1) sets forth documentation requirements for establishing DACA eligibility, and (2) repeals the denial of an unlawful alien’s eligibility for higher education benefits based on state residence

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