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What is Per Country Limit?

According to USCIS definition [1], it is The maximum number of family-sponsored and employment-based preference visas that can be issued to citizens of any country in a fiscal year. The limits are calculated each fiscal year depending on the total number of family-sponsored and employment-based visas available. No more than 7 percent of the visas may be issued to natives of any one independent country in a fiscal year; no more than 2 percent may issued to any one dependency of any independent country. The per-country limit does not indicate, however, that a country is entitled to the maximum number of visas each year, just that it cannot receive more than that number. Because of the combined workings of the preference system and per-country limits, most countries do not reach this level of visa issuance.

Per country limits in Employment Based Immigration

Per country limits in Employment based immigration were inherited implicitly from the existing family based immigration system. Unlike the Family based immigration, Employment based immigration is not based on the ties to a family member, rather based on the credentials of a beneficiary and the need of a US employer. By subjecting Employment based immigrants to per country limits, both the beneficiary and the employer are at loss of immigration benefits. Majority of the employment based immigrant applicants are formed out of the dual intent visas such as H and L visas, which are not subject to per country limits.


Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren has sponsored HR5921 that removes the per country limits on the Employment based immigration categories and prescribes a first in first out system. This bill was co sponsored by Republican congressman Bob Goodlatte and had good bi partisan support. How ever, the bill was filibustered by other Republican representatives on the judiciary committee.

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