In Contrast to the 131 Nations with Special Immigration Rights, Only 18 Have Special Exclusions

By David North on December 28, 2023

We previously reported that 131 nations have special favorable deals – sometimes several different ones – when seeking nonimmigrant visas to the U.S.

Now we turn to the other side of the coin and find that there are 18 countries getting the reverse treatment, having less access to U.S. immigration than people from other nations in the world. The contrast between 131 nations with special benefits versus only 18 with special exclusions tells you something about our all-too-generous policies.

The rationales for tipping against the system in the 18 instances are the same: we have already accepted what some part of the system regards as an excessive number of immigrants from the country in question.

This comes up in two different ways: the more significant one relates to country-of-origin ceilings in our basic immigration rules. Routinely, each country in the world is allowed no more than seven percent of admissions each year in each of 15 subsets of permanent immigrants; the object is to prevent any single nation from dominating the flow of incoming immigrants. This list varies from time to time, but four nations face this obstacle at the moment, according to the most recent issue of the State Department’s monthly Visa Bulletin. They are:

  • China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines.

All nations have varying lengths of visa backlogs, subset by subset, but these four have particularly long ones because so many of their countrymen have come to the U.S. in previous years. The backlogs do not apply to non-numerically limited classes of migration, such as spouses of citizens. The complexity of these rules – said to be completely understood fully by only a handful of people at the State Department – is illustrated by this footnote in the current (December) Visa Bulletin:

Employment Third Preference Other Workers Category: Section 203(e) of the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) passed by Congress in November 1997, as amended by Section 1(e) of Pub. L. 105-139, provides that once the Employment Third Preference Other Worker (EW) cut-off date has reached the priority date of the latest EW petition approved prior to November 19, 1997, the 10,000 EW numbers available for a fiscal year are to be reduced by up to 5,000 annually beginning in the following fiscal year. This reduction is to be made for as long as necessary to offset adjustments under the NACARA program. Since the EW final action date reached November 19, 1997 during Fiscal Year 2001, the reduction in the EW annual limit to 5,000 began in Fiscal Year 2002. For Fiscal Year 2024 this reduction will be limited to approximately 150.

About half of our annual input of one million new legal immigrants flow through the numerically limited portion of the system, and about half do not.

Easier to understand, but less significant numerically, are the rules for the congressionally created Diversity Visa Lottery, which provides about 50,000 visa slots to the winners of this nearly world-wide program. Each year there is a new list of excluded nations, kept out of the system, because we have received large numbers of people from those nations in the past. The current list of excluded nations includes the four noted above, and fourteen others:

  • Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Korea, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

So aliens from 18 jurisdictions are treated differently and less well than other aliens, while people from a different set of 131 nations are treated better than their alien competitors in what is a very intricate set of systems.

To add to the confusion, some nations are on both the lists of the favored and the lists of the excluded, such as Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and Venezuela.