The Immigration and Naturalization Act establishes limits on the number of most types of visas that may be issued in a given year. In many categories, the limits involve formulas with factors that relate to the number of visas issued in other categories, resulting in these quotas being linked together. To learn how these visa quotas may impact your immigration case in San Diego, speak with an attorney from Hacking Immigration Law, LLC.
A visa gives citizens of one country permission to enter another. The United States issues two primary types of visas—nonimmigrant visas for those who wish to travel to the U.S. on a temporary basis and immigrant visas for those who wish to establish permanent residency in this country.
Temporary visas may be issued to those seeking to have an extended vacation, obtain medical treatment, visit family, work temporarily, or many other reasons. Immigrant visas may be issued for numerous different reasons, but they share the characteristic of enabling the holders to become lawful permanent residents eligible to work and enjoy other benefits.
There are many types of immigrant and nonimmigrant visas based on the characteristics and situation of the visa holder. U.S. law limits the total number of immigrant visas issued each year and sets limits for different types of visas as well as quotas on the number of visas issued to residents of particular countries. There are no such general limits on nonimmigrant visas.
Although there are numerous types of immigrant visas, many of them are based on family status or employment. With regard to family members, the number of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens granted immigrant visas is not limited. Immediate relatives are generally considered to be spouses, minor children and parents.
Other family members such as adult children and siblings of U.S. citizens and spouses and children of lawful permanent residents may be granted visas under the family preference system, but the number of these visas issued each year is limited to 226,000. Within this overall limit, there are individual limits for different types of family categories, but these may be adjusted if the quotas for some categories are not filled.
Visas based on employment are broken into a number of categories, with an overall limit of 140,000 with a quota on each category. For 2018, for instance, the limit on the “E1” employment first preference category was 40,040. If this quota was not filled, the extra available visas could “fall” to the E2 category.
In the interests of furthering diversity and to prevent one immigrant group from dominating immigration to the U.S., the law limits the number of family-sponsored and employment-based visas that will be issued to people from any one country in a given year. Individuals from one country may not receive more than 7% of the visas issued that year.
Because citizens of some countries such as Mexico and India apply in greater numbers than citizens of other countries, these country quotas affect these applicants more heavily and can increase their wait time substantially.
For purposes of the per country limit, applicants are usually affiliated with the country of their birth, regardless of whether they have since moved and obtained citizenship in another country.
Visa limits for particular categories can change based on availability in other categories and due to amendments in immigration law. Because of volatile nature of visa quotas in San Diego, it is important to reach out to a lawyer with any questions you may have. To get in touch with one of our attorneys, schedule a consultation today.