Legal Immigration Surges

By CIS on December 1, 1996

pp. 11-14 in Immigration Review no. 27, Fall/Winter, 1996-97

Preliminary data from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) indicate that legal immigration rose by almost 30 percent in FY 1996 from 716,000 in FY 1995 to 911,000, not including aliens amnestied under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. INS officials plan to release the final tally of 1996 legal immigration in late March. They estimate that the total could be as high as 920,000. As the accompanying table shows, family-based immigration accounted for over 65 percent of total legal immigration, while employment-based immigration, which grew by 38 percent, accounted for just under 13 percent, according to the preliminary data.

INS projections released last spring indicated that legal immigration would rise by over 40 percent in FY 1996 and continue to rise through FY 1997, after which it would fall slowly to just over 800,000 in FY 2001 (see Immigration Review, No. 25, p. 12). The fact that the preliminary FY 1996 numbers fall short of those projections is due at least partially to the growing administrative backlog of 245(i) adjustment applications (see Immigration Review, No. 25, p. 9).

Table: Legal Immigration: FY 1995 and Preliminary FY 1996