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Recommendation 2.1 calls for elimination of the per-country and dependent territory numerical limitations. Under that recommendation, all visas would be issued on a first-come, first-served basis within the existing six category preference system, and the number of visas available in any single year would be the current annual worldwide ceiling of 270,000. Unused visa numbers in any of the preference categories for relatives of American citizens and permanent resident aliens would continue to be available to the next relative preference category to assist in the reunification of families, the primary purpose of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This immigrant selection system is described in chart A1.
To exemplify how this system would operate, charts A2-A3 have been constructed from the Department of State's list of "Active Immigrant Visa Applicants Registered at Consular Offices as of January 1, 1979,” and its February 1979 Visa Bulletin. 1 The Commission emphasizes that the statistics and figures in the following charts are imperfect reflections of current backlogs of visa applicants because some persons represented in these charts received a visa in calendar years 1979 and 1980 and because some applicants awaiting visas may no longer wish to immigrate to this country. They are used here only to illustrate the operation of an immigrant selection system without per-country and dependent territory numerical limitations (under Recommendation 2.1 of this report) and, further, to · The charts included in this appendix were originally based on the seven category preference system which existed prior to 1980. In March 1980, the enactment of the Refugee Act altered the immigrant selection system by eliminating the seventh preference category of conditional entrants and establishing a separate worldwide ceiling for refugees. It also reduced the annual worldwide ceiling for the remaining six preference categories from 290,000 to 270,000, while increasing the number of second preference visas available each year from 20 percent to 26 percent. Refugee Act of 1980, Pub. L. No. 96-212 (to be codified in scattered sections of 8 U.S.C.).
show how the apparent backlog of visa applicants would affect that system in its first few years of operation.
In constructing these charts, the following assumptions were made: 1. An assumption was made that all persons represented on the “Active Immigrant Visa Applicants” list did in fact wish to immigrate to the United States. 2. Countries or dependent territories whose visa applications were not current (according to the February 1979 Visa Bulletin) were matched to the totals for visa applications on file for that country or dependent territory (as listed in "Active Immigrant Visa Applicants Registered at Consular Offices as of January 1, 1979"). The total visa applications on file were divided by the number of years over which the visa applications have accumulated. Thus, an assumption was made that the annual demand for visas from that particular country or dependent territory was approximately the same in each year. 3. In dividing the visa numbers in a particular year, the further assumption was made that visa applications were also proportionately equal in any single month of that year; i.e., one-twelfth of the approximate average annual visa demand for a specific country or dependent territory would constitute the number of visa applicants in a 1-month period for that country or dependent territory.
As a result of this recent amendment of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the charts accompanying this appendix have been altered to reflect how the new six category preference system, without per-country and dependent territory limitations, would eliminate the backlog of visa applicants noted in the Department of State Visa Bulletin of February 1979 and list of “Active Immigrant Visa Applicants Registered at Consular Offices as of January 1, 1979."
•The annual worldwide ceiling would be 270,000, the same ceiling which exists under current law. Likewise, the Commission suggests no change in the preference catagories, the percentages allocated to each preference category, or the system by which unused visas in one preference category are carried over to the next relative preference category. Source: 8 U.S.C. $1153 (a)(1)-(6) (Supp. 1979), as amended by the Refugee Act of 1980, Public Law No. 96-212 (to be codified in scattered sections of 8 U.S.C.).
4. All persons applying for a first preference visa would be able to obtain one. Because only 5,280 first preference visas were issued in 1978, an assumption was made that a substantial number of unused first preference visa numbers would be carried over and become available to applicants in the other relative preference categories. For purposes of these charts, it was assumed that 6,000 first preference visas would be used in the first year of the new immigrant selection system proposed in Recommendation 2.1. Thus, 48,000 unused first preference visas would be available for applicants in other relative preference categories. (Note that, as reflected in the accompanying charts, this computation was applied only during the first year of operation under the proposed immigrant selection system without per-country and dependent territory numerical limitations and not to succeeding years. Its application in succeeding years would undoubtedly result in the elimination of the fifth preference category backlog at a much earlier date.) 5. The estimated number of unused first preference visas in the first year of the proposed system was added to the total visa numbers that would be available for second preference visa applicants in the
applicants in the fourth and fifth preference categories. Thus, fourth and fifth preference visa applicants would be limited strictly to the percentage allotted under the annual worldwide ceiling. (Of course, if there were any unused visas in the first and second preference categories, they would be available to fourth and fifth preference visa applicants, thus reducing the potential backlog of visa applications in those preference categories that might exist at the initial implementation of the proposed immigrant selection system of Recommendation 2.1).
Based on those assumptions, charts A2-A3 were constructed. The charts for each preference category show the numerical and percentage distribution of immigrant visas within that preference for countries or dependent territories with potential backlogs. Thus, for example, the chart for second preference shows that during the first year following implementation of Recommendation 2.1, an estimated 79,917 of second preference immigrants would come from Mexico, the Philippines, Antigua, Belize, Hong Kong, and St. Christopher-Nevis, while the remaining 38,283 of second preference immigrants would come from all countries on a first-come, firstserved basis. Charts for third and fifth preference indicate that more than one year would probably be required to eliminate the potential backlog of visa applications within those preferences. Charts for first, second, fourth, and sixth preference indicate that the potential backlog of visa applicants in those preference categories would probably be eliminated in the first year.
Elimination of Backlogs Within Preference Categories under Proposed New Immigrant Selection System Without Per-Country and Dependent Territory Numerical Limitations
27,000 -46,6202 -19,620
27,0001 -22,7352 + 4,265
64,8001 -232,7502 -167,950
27,0001 -11,3332 + 15,667
64,8001 -103, 1502
'Number of visas available in this preference category. ?Estimated number of persons seeking visas in this preference category (present backlog). "Estimated number of persons seeking visas in this preference category (new applicants in year 1).
Source: Calculated from data in U.S., Department of State, “Active Immigrant Visa Applicants Registered at Consular Offices as of January 1, 1979," and Visa Bulletin, February 1979.
*This figure is an estimte of the number of second preference visas that might be available in year 1, including unused first preference visas. In 1978, only 5,280 first preference visas were issued. In the State Department document listing the active immigrant visa applications registered at consular offices, only 4,879 first preference visa applications were on file. If 6,000 first preference visa numbers are used in year 1, then 48,000 unused first preference visa numbers would be available to second preference visa applicants. The 118,200 figure is reached by combining the normal allocation of second preference visa numbers (70,200) with the unused first preference visa numbers (48,000).