of all priority workers in 1995. The majority (56 percent) of employment-preference immigrants in 1995 were born in Asia, with China, the Philippines, and India sending the largest numbers. A relatively small number of unskilled workers are admitted each year as employment-preference immigrants. This unskilled category accounts for the largest backlog of applications for employment-preference visas, with about 94,000 registrants in January 1994, of a total of about 150,000 in the employment category.

Diversity immigrants fall outside the preference system but also face numerical limits. In 1994, Poland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Canada together accounted for 92 percent of the immigrants admitted under the temporary version of this program. The permanent version of this program, which started in 1995, provides 55,000 visas to nationals of countries that have sent fewer than 50,000 legal immigrants to the United States over the previous five-years. Applicants from eligible countries must have at least a high school education and two-years of work experience. The 55,000 visas are allocated to six broad regions in proportion to their populations (excluding ineligible countries) and then are distributed to applicants from eligible countries within those regions through an annual lottery. For the 1998 lottery, the majority of visas will be allocated to Africa and Europe, from which Great Britain and Poland are excluded.

Total immigrant admissions vary substantially from year to year, due both to legislated changes and to changes in the number of visa applicants in the categories that are not oversubscribed. To illustrate these shifts, Table 2.4 includes detailed admissions for 1993 as well as 1995. The higher level of immigration in 1993 was due in part to special provisions for particular immigrant groups: the allocation of 55,000 additional visas specifically for the spouses and children of IRCA-legalized permanent residents in fiscal years 1992-94; the allowance for certain Chinese nationals to adjust their status to permanent resident as employment-preference immigrants, put in place by the Chinese Student Protection Act in October 1992; and provision of visas for Amerasians, for whom admissions peaked in 1992. The difference between admissions in the two-years also reflects changes in the number of admissions in certain categories; the number of immigrant spouses and parents of U.S. citizens admitted into the United States was substantially lower in 1995 than in 1993, as were employment-preference immigrants.

The Changing Size of Government

The America to which the immigrants are arriving today differs in salient ways from the America of earlier immigrant waves. One of the most critical lies in the changing role of government at all levels. Immigrants have always affected governmental outlays and receipts, and cries that they bankrupt school budgets or the dole were often heard in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement