Country Quotas For US Immigration

By Ella Bergquist October 8, 2019 2 min. read

In all of the discussion surrounding illegal immigration to the US over the course of President Trump’s term in office, legal immigration is often touted as the solution. In other words, illegal immigration is bad and legal immigration is good. However, legal immigration is often not the straightforward process it is said to be. Common imagery surrounding the concept of legal immigration is the idea of a line in which an immigrant patiently waits before receiving a green light to enter the country. Unfortunately, this is not the reality.

One of the major reasons this line analogy falls apart is the reality of the US quota system. Only 7% of applicants from a given country can immigrate to the US each year, regardless of size. As you can imagine this disproportionately hurts immigrants from larger countries like China, India and Mexico. This system was introduced in 1965 as a means of replacing an older quota system based on how many immigrants from your country were already in the US. Although initially these quotas opened immigration avenues to new nations, in recent years they are seen as working against immigrants from large countries. This system has created a large backlog. Some hopeful employment based green card applicants from China and India have been on the wait list since 2008 and 2010, respectively.

A bill was proposed that would eliminate the per-country quotas failed in the Senate in September 2019. This proposed bill would have meant that people living in countries with large populations would no longer be hindered by the low quota numbers. The proposed plan had been to move those applicants from China and India to the front of the line. Clearing the backlog would mean increasing the wait time for new applicants temporarily. The bill would likely have benefited the tech industry which tends to rely on highly skilled foreign labor. However, this bill failed to increase the total number of green cards and instead focused on a more fair distribution. The failure of this bill to pass can be seen as an example of the difficulty that the Senate faces when attempting to address legal immigration issues.

Are You Worried about Immigration to the US?

You may consider immigration to Canada if you have been considering immigrating to the US but feel that it may not be the right choice for you at the moment. Canada has more immigration streams available at the moment as it aims to fill the gaps in its labor market. Canada has a program called Express Entry where qualified candidates can fast track their immigration applications and earn permanent residency.

If you are worried about the country quotas to the US, we would love to hear from you in our comments section.

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