The State Department makes official determinations of the worldwide numerical annual limits on immigrants according to the relevant portions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and based on data provided by U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (CIS). For Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, the numerical limitations have been determined as follows:
Limit for Worldwide Family-Sponsored (FS) preference immigrants: 226,000
Limit for Worldwide Employment-Based (EB) preference immigrants: 150,657
Under the INA, the per-country limit for preference immigrants is set at 7% of the total annual family-sponsored and employment-based preference limits. Therefore, the per-country limit for FY-2010 is 26,366. The dependent area limit is set at 2% by the INA, or 7,533 for FY-2010.
Immigrant visas are also numerically limited by category. Within FS preferences and EB preferences, the INA sets preference classes with for the allocation of immigrant visas.
According to The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs’ monthly Visa Bulletin for September 2010, Dominican Republic, India, Mexico, Philippines and China-mainland born, are oversubscribed areas, which means that the visa demand exceeds the per-country limit. The Bulletin lists the cut-off dates for these countries. Most of the EB preference classes are current (no backlog) with several important exceptions. For the EB-3 preference class (skilled workers, professionals and other workers) and for unskilled workers, there exists a huge backlog for all the countries.
Comparing the Visa Bulleting for August 2010 with September 2010, the cut-off date has moved anywhere from 2 months to 1 year forward for the FS preference classes. For the Philippines, the movement was between 8 to 12 months. For the EB preference classes, EB-3 moved forward 6 months, and EB-other workers moved forward 12 months. However, the results for EB-2 and EB-3 for chargeability areas China-mainland born and India were very slight, with the cut-off date for EB-3 class from India remaining the same at January 1, 2002.
A provision of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) has been used in recent years to allow oversubscribed countries such as China-mainland born and India to use large amounts of EB-1 and EB-2 by overriding the per-country limit to ensure that all available Employment preference numbers will be used.