Eine Frau geht an einer Weltkarte, die aus Kinderporträts besteht, am Freitag (18.06.2010) im JuniorMuseum in Köln vorbei.

10.9.2012 | Von:
Nicholas Parrott

Current Admissions Policy

Non-U.S. citizens can be admitted to the U.S. on a permanent basis in three general categories: family reunification, employment sponsorship and humanitarian cases. The number of people granted lawful permanent residence (LPR) status each year[1] is comprised of new arrivals and persons who have adjusted their residence status from temporary to permanent. Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs, known as "green card" holders) enjoy a wide range of rights: They may live and work permanently in the U.S., own property, attend public schools, colleges and universities, serve in parts of the armed forces and apply to become U.S. citizens.[2] Family reunification is by far the largest channel of entry for LPRs, accounting for over one-half of all entries. The other main channels are employment-based immigration, refugees and asylum seekers (see 'Flight and Asylum') as well as the so-called Diversity Lottery (see below). Family reunification is available to two broad groups of people: immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and family members sponsored according to preference categories. The first group includes spouses and children of U.S. citizens and has no numerical limit; they generally account for 40% of LPR admissions. The second group is divided into four so-called "preference categories", three of which govern family reunification to U.S. citizens, and one of which provides for the entry of spouses and unmarried children of U.S. permanent residents (LPRs). The total number of entries under all four preference categories is limited to between 226,000 and 480,000 per year.[3] Additionally, no single country may account for more than 7% of admissions in the preference categories.

Employment-based immigration, another path to permanent settlement, is available to employees with a range of skill levels under four separate categories, most of which require that an applicant be sponsored by an employer. A fifth category provides for the admission of investors. Employment-based admissions are limited to 140,000 per year, plus any unused family preferences from the previous year, with a 7% annual cap per sending country. Finally, the Diversity Lottery awards LPR status to citizens of countries which have not sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the previous five years. Since 1999 the annual limit for admissions in this category has been 50,000. The names of eligible countries are published by the State Department before each year's lottery begins. In 2011, the per-country limit of diversity visas was 3,500.

In addition to these means of entry for permanent settlement, there is a wide variety of visa categories for the admission of temporary residents, or so-called "nonimmigrants [sic!]", all of which are subject to numerical limits. For example, 65,000 work visas for temporary highly-skilled workers (H-1B) are made available each year (plus an extra 20,000 for foreign graduates of U.S. universities), as are 66,000 work visas (H-2B) for seasonal workers or workers needed to fill temporary labor shortages in sectors such as construction, health care, landscaping, lumber, manufacturing, food service/processing and resort/hospitality services. According to DHS estimates there were 159 million nonimmigrant admissions in the U.S. in 2011. Of these, 87% were tourist and business travelers.


Persons Obtaining LPR Status - Fiscal Years 1995-2011Persons Obtaining LPR Status - Fiscal Years 1995-2011 Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/2.0/de (bpb)

The number of people receiving LPR status each year has been increasing since the Second World War, quadrupling from an average of 250,000 persons per year in the 1950s to just over one million per year in the period from 2000 to 2011.

Persons obtaining legal permanent resident status by type and major class of admission: Fiscal year 2011Persons obtaining legal permanent resident status by type and major class of admission: Fiscal year 2011 Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/2.0/de (bpb)
In 2011, a total of 1,062,040 people were awarded LPR status, 481,948 (45.4%) of whom were new arrivals, and 580,092 (54.6%) of whom had adjusted their status (i.e. were not new immigrants, but people who had applied for LPR status while living in the U.S. under a different permit). A total of 688,089 people (64.8%) acquired LPR status under family reunification provisions, 139,339 (13.1%) in the employment-based category, 50,103 (4.7%) in the Diversity Lottery, 168,460 (15.9%) as refugees and asylees, and the remainder via other categories. The top 3 countries of birth of new LPRs were Mexico (14%), China (8.2%), and India (6.5%).[4]


The term year refers throughout to the US fiscal year, which runs from October to September.
The information contained in this section is based on Jefferys (2007b).
The means of calculating the actual limit are complicated and take into account, among other things, the number of people awarded LPR status in certain categories (e.g. immediate relatives of US citizens, who are not limited by a quota) in the previous fiscal year. The admissions quota for family preferences is not permitted to drop below 226,000. If the calculated quota falls below that minimum, it is set at 226,000 as a default. See Jefferys (2007b).
See Monger/Yankay (2012).


Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl: Aktuelle Themen

Ein Kurzdossier legt komplexe Zusammenhänge aus den Bereichen Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl sowie Integration auf einfache und klare Art und Weise dar. Es bietet einen fundierten Einstieg in eine bestimmte Thematik, in dem es den Hintergrund näher beleuchtet und verschiedene Standpunkte wissenschaftlich und kritisch abwägt. Darüber hinaus enthält es Hinweise auf weiterführende Literatur und Internet-Verweise. Dies eröffnet die Möglichkeit, sich eingehender mit der Thematik zu befassen. Unsere Kurzdossiers erscheinen bis zu 6-mal jährlich.

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