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The Immigration and Nationality Act, in terms of work visas

As many familiar with the process of obtaining work visas in California are likely to attest, the process of becoming a legal permanent resident is seldom straightforward. This is due, in part, to the large amount of legislation governing immigration, not only to the state of California, but the entire nation. The Immigration and Nationality Act is one such document, and it has had lasting ramifications for those wishing to pursue jobs in the land of opportunity.

Legislative advisors from the Congressional Research Service report that the overwhelming majority of permanent work visas are assigned to people currently residing in the USA, meaning that these applications are processed through US Citizenship and Immigration Services. In fact, fewer than 20 percent of workers obtained their approval for visas on arrival from a foreign residence. Even though this majority of workers resided in the USA at the time their visa was assigned, these visas still counted towards several limits set in the INA:

  • Each individual worker's country cap
  • The cap on his or her preference category
  • The total annual cap on employment visas

The Atlantic published an article on the fiftieth anniversary of the INA looking back on the effects and intents of the landmark US immigration law. The most relevant point to this discussion is that the act eliminated the quota system for immigration. The previous policy set aside unequal amounts of visas for various countries, leaving some nations with many visas and others with next to none. The INA, by contrast, caps the annual visas assigned to any one nationality to a flat percentage of the overall total permitted for the year.

The Atlantic article also mentions a quote from George Washington, describing his belief that America should be open to those who are disadvantaged or persecuted in their own countries. In the same spirit of this sentiment, the INA attempts to provide work visa opportunities for those who might truly fulfill their potential in the globally leading companies of the USA. 

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