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Reviewing the Immigration and Nationality Act

The United States has long been the preferred destination of millions from around the world seeking opportunities to better theirs and their families' circumstances. However, the immigration history of the U.S. has long been influenced by different policies and trends that have contributed to cultural makeup both in Louisville and the rest of the country. The federal government took significant steps to curb those influences by signing the Immigration and Nationality Act into law in 1965. 

Prior to the enactment of the Act, national origin quotas on immigrants had been in place since the 1920s. These heavily favored immigrants from Western and Northern Europe. According to the Migration Policy Institute, the 1965 legislation capped the number of visas allowed to immigrants from the Eastern Hemisphere at 170,000 per year, and immigrants from the Western Hemisphere at 120,000. Additionally, it limited the number of visas available to people from Eastern Hemisphere countries to no more 20,000 per country (the same standard was applied to Western Hemisphere countries in 1978). The worldwide visa cap has since been extended to 480,000 for those in family-based admission categories (with immediate relatives of U.S. citizens being exempt), and 140,000 for those in employment-based admission categories. 

How does the Immigration and Nationality Act apply to those seeking an adjustment of status? It clearly details the qualifications to make such a change. The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services shows those to be: 

  • One must make an application for adjustment to the U.S. Attorney General's office
  • One must be admissible to permanent residence in the U.S. 
  • One must be immediately eligible to receive an immigrant visa at the time of application

If approved, the Attorney General's office records the applicant's status as a permanent resident, and the state department reduces the preference visas issued to the applicant's country of origin by one. 

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