Under the immigration laws of the United States, a quota is placed on the number and makeup of immigrants who can legally enter the United States. Because the demand (the number of people wanting to legally enter the United States) outweighs the supply (the number of Green Cards awarded every year), there is often a substantial waiting list for entry into the US.
The following partial list of the different types of immigrant status, with a short description of what that category entails:
- Eligible if an immediate relative is a citizen of the United States. The citizen must be at least 21 years of age if he or she wishes to sponsor his parents. There are no set limit on IR immigration.
- Spouses and underage children of legal US permanent residents. The per year set the limit is 87,934 adn two to three years are waiting period.
- Unmarried children of legal permanent residents. Annually, 26,266 F2B immigrants may enter the country, with a wait of around eight or nine years.
- Priority workers. There are three categories of priority workers: foreign nationals recognized for their work in business, arts, science, or education; foreign nationals recognized for research or teaching excellence with at least three years of experience in the field; foreign nationals who are managers or executives. There are 40,000 available every year, and there is usually no wait.
- Workers and professionals. There are 40,000 available annually, but the wait is typically between six and nine years.
There are also special statuses for diversity immigrants, people seeking political asylum, and refugees.