Posted on January 12, 2011

CBO: 748,000 Foreign Nationals Granted U.S. Permanent Residency Status in 2009 Because They Had Immediate Family Legally Living in America

Edwin Mora, Cybercast News Service, January 11, 2011

Foreign nationals with family ties to American citizens and green-card holders accounted for about two-thirds (748,000) of the total 1.1 million individuals who were granted legal permanent residency status by the U.S. government in 2009, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The number of foreign nationals who became legal permanent residents (LPRs) of the U.S. in 2009 as a result of family ties (66 percent) outpaced those who became LPRs on the basis of employment skills (13 percent) and humanitarian reasons (17 percent), the CBO revealed in a December 2010 report entitled, Immigration Policy in the United States: An Update.


An individual who becomes an LPR or U.S. citizen can then sponsor the admittance of immediate family members into the U.S.


“About 536,000–or almost half–of the LPRs admitted in 2009 were immediate relatives of U.S. citizens . . . other relatives admitted under family-sponsored preferences constituted the next largest category, accounting for 212,000 new LPRs in 2009,” the CBO stated.

There are five categories under which the U.S. grants permanent residency status to foreign nationals, according to CBO. They include: relatives of U.S. citizens, family-sponsored preferences, employment-based preferences, the Diversity Program, and humanitarian reasons.

The sub-categories under family-sponsored preferences admissions include–First preference: unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens; Second preference: spouses and dependent children of LPRs, unmarried sons and daughters of LPRs; Third preference: married sons daughters of U.S. citizens; and Fourth preference: siblings of adult U.S. citizens.

According to CBO, family-based admissions of individuals who were granted permanent residency status under the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and family-sponsored preferences categories refer to those granted to “certain relatives of U.S. citizens and LPRs (such as spouses, parents, and unmarried children under age 21).”

Annual limits apply to “admissions based on family-sponsored preferences, employment based preferences, and diversity,” meanwhile “admissions of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and admissions for humanitarian reasons are unlimited,” explained the CBO.

Given the unlimited cap of admission for relatives of U.S. citizens, the CBO showed that between 2005 and 2009, admissions on that basis “were 26 percent greater than such admissions from 2000 through 2004.”


Of the 1.1 million individuals who were granted legal permanent residency status in 2009, 66 percent were family-based admission, 17 percent were humanitarian admissions, 13 percent were granted under employment-based preferences, and four percent under the Diversity Program admissions, the CBO revealed.


The CBO also revealed that the majority of those who were granted LPR status in 2009 had both family ties to a U.S. citizen or LPR and were already in the U.S. as a “temporary resident or visitor.”

“In 2009, about 40 percent of the 1.1 million individuals granted LPR status entered the United States for the first time as a permanent resident. The other 60 percent were individuals who were already in the United States when they were granted LPR status,” the CBO stated.


However, a bigger picture by CBO of the 1.1 million individuals who were granted LPR status in 2009 showed that “413,000 (or 37 percent) were born in Asia and 375,000 (or 33 percent) were born in North America (which includes Central America).”

The remaining individuals were born in South America (9 percent), Europe (9 percent), and Africa (11 percent).