Governance Immigration
November 16th, 2023 2 Minute Read Press Release

New Model Legislation: Reducing Visa Waste to Promote High-Skilled Immigration

Fixing errors in the letter of immigration law would result in significant economic benefits for America

New York, NY – Administrative backlogs of immigrant visas—commonly known as “green cards”—are costing the American economy, especially due to the loss of highly-skilled immigrants. In new federal model legislation, Manhattan Institute graduate fellow Daniel Di Martino identifies how fixing a small error in the letter of the Immigration and Nationality Act can help expand high-skilled, and reduce low-skilled, immigration.

Di Martino details how errors in the letter of the law allow the executive branch to waste thousands of visas that Congress intended to give immigrants every single year. This was especially problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic, when over a hundred thousand visas were lost because of administrative errors. He identifies small changes in the formula for visa spillovers from year to year which can reduce visa waste and favor highly skilled immigrants by allocating more employment-based visas and fewer family-based visas. 

The estimated result of this proposal would increase the total number of green cards without increasing total immigration, since most immigrants awaiting employment-based visas are already residing in the country. In fact, Di Martino’s calculations demonstrate that this proposal would result in about 1,800 fewer net immigrants annually to the United States due to the reduction in family-based visas. The model legislation aims to:

  • Achieve the intent of the Immigration and Nationality Act: fixing the spillover formula will ensure that the level of total immigration set by Congress is met.
  • Prioritize Employment-Based Visas: each year’s unused immigrant visas should be awarded to applicants able to contribute positively to the economy.
  • Reduce backlogs for highly skilled visa categories: administrative backlogs are handicapping our immigration system, and preventing it from furthering America’s economic interest.

Read the full model legislation here.


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