Immigration Reform:

Major Changes Likely Under S. 358

PEMD-90-5: Published: Nov 9, 1989. Publicly Released: Nov 9, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the affects of S. 358 on immigration, compared to current law, during the years 1990 through 1999, focusing on: (1) family-based immigration; (2) visa waiting lists; (3) labor market immigration; and (4) immigration from high-demand countries.

GAO found that: (1) under S. 358, family-preference immigration would decline sharply and reach zero by about 1999 under a fixed limit because of a projected increase in the annual number of immediate-relative immigrants and required parallel decreases in family-preference immigration; (2) estimated family-preference immigration during 1990-1999 would total 1.21 million under S. 358 and 2.16 million under current law; (3) total immigration would be slightly higher under current law and would rise to an estimated 7.2 million or more under S. 358; (4) the bill would increase the number of immigrants with labor-market skills in demand in the United States from 54,000 to about 150,000, by increasing the number of visas for independent immigrants, increasing skill and educational requirements, and assigning large weights to educational and occupational measures; (5) the bill would also increase immigration from countries formerly considered high-demand countries that now have insufficient relatives to sponsor immigrants; and (6) although the bill was to divide numerically limited immigration into family-based and independent immigrant admission, the two groups were likely to mingle because the spouses and children of selected immigrants seeking entry would increase the number of applicants awaiting second-preference visas and decreased family-preference immigration would increase those waiting lists.

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