Immigration Policies in the US: What will 2024 bring?

By April 17, 2024Immigration Law Blog
immigration policies in the us

Immigration signifies hope, opportunity, and change. As legal practitioners in the field of immigration law, we at Nelson Immigration Law have been privileged to witness firsthand the transformative power of immigration policies in the US. These policies shape the lives of millions who dream of calling this country home.

The rapidly evolving nature of these policies can bring both apprehension and anticipation. The question on everyone’s mind is: what will 2024 bring? Will the proposed changes usher in a new era of inclusivity and diversity? Or will they present fresh challenges that immigrants must navigate?

In 2024, we anticipate significant changes to the US immigration landscape. With a new administration at the helm and an ever-changing global context, it’s crucial for individuals and families looking to move or stay in the US to understand these impending shifts.

In this article, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of current immigration policies in the US, discuss potential changes in 2024, and highlight how Nelson Immigration Law can assist you through your immigration journey.

immigration policies us

Understanding Immigration Policies in the US

The foundation of United States immigration policy lies in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Created more than 50 years ago, the INA still plays a crucial role in defining the rules for non-citizens who want to enter or stay in the US, whether it’s for a short period or permanently.

Key Provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

The INA primarily covers two things: who can apply for immigration and the conditions they must meet. It also deals with other important matters like how people are admitted into the country, reasons for deportation, and the process of becoming a citizen through naturalization.

Here are some key areas that the INA addresses:

  1. Eligibility criteria for entry: The requirements that individuals must meet to be considered for immigration.
  2. Admission procedures: The steps involved in entering the US as an immigrant.
  3. Grounds for deportation: The reasons why someone may be forced to leave the country.
  4. Processes for naturalization: The pathway to becoming a US citizen for immigrants.

The INA also sets specific limits on how many permanent immigrant visas can be issued each year. Currently, this number stands at 675,000 visas annually, but certain categories such as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are exempt from this cap.

Categories of Permanent Immigrant Visas

Permanent immigrant visas are divided into different categories, each serving its own purpose and reflecting the various goals of U.S. immigration policy.

Family-Based Immigration

This category prioritizes keeping families together by allowing U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor their close relatives for immigration.

Employment-Based Immigration

Under this category, U.S. employers have the opportunity to sponsor skilled workers based on their job skills and qualifications, which helps support economic growth in the country.

Diversity Visa Program

The Diversity Visa Program aims to increase immigration from countries that have historically had low rates of migration to the United States. It operates through a lottery system, where winners are randomly selected for the opportunity to apply for a visa.

Refugee and Asylee Adjustments

People who are fleeing persecution or are unable to return to their home country due to life-threatening conditions can seek refuge in the United States under this category.

Each visa category has its own specific requirements that applicants must meet, and there are also yearly limits on how many visas can be issued in each category. These factors can result in varying wait times for individuals based on their country of origin and the type of visa they are applying for.

Impact of Annual Visa Quotas on Each Category

The annual visa quotas established by the INA have significant consequences:

  1. Priority Date Backlogs: The demand for visas often exceeds the supply available, leading to backlogs where applications can be delayed for years.
  2. Country-Specific Caps: There are restrictions on the number of immigrants that can come from any single country, which can worsen backlogs for nationals from heavily populated nations.
  3. Per-Country Ceilings: In an effort to maintain diversity, no country can receive more than 7% of any visa category in one fiscal year.

These quotas have a profound impact on individuals and families who are looking to start anew in America. Each year, changes to these quotas can bring hope or present new challenges.

As someone interested in this ever-changing landscape, it’s crucial for both potential immigrants and policymakers to stay updated on current trends and legislative changes that could affect these numbers and, ultimately, their futures.

Family-Based Immigration

Family-based immigration is a key part of the United States’ immigration policy, focusing on bringing families back together. This policy recognizes how important it is for families to stay united and aims to make it easier for family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to enter the country legally and become permanent residents.

Immediate Relatives Category:

This category includes:

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens
  • Unmarried children under 21 years old of U.S. citizens
  • Parents of U.S. citizens (if the citizen is at least 21 years old)

Benefits of this category:

  • Faster processing times since there are no annual limits
  • Exemption from the preference system that applies to other family-based immigration categories

It’s worth noting that immediate relatives have an advantage in the immigration process because of these benefits.

Preference Categories for Family-Sponsored Visas:

The preference system has four main categories, each with its own requirements and yearly limits on visas:

  1. First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters (21 years or older) of U.S. citizens
  2. Second Preference (F2):
  • F2A: Spouses and unmarried children (under 21) of LPRs
  • F2B: Unmarried sons and daughters (21 years or older) of LPRs
  1. Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
  2. Fourth Preference (F4): Siblings of adult U.S. citizens

Each preference category shows a deliberate effort to prioritize reuniting certain family members, while also considering the limited number of visas available by law.

The impact on families waiting to be reunited can be significant, especially when there are more people wanting visas than there are visas available. This can result in long waiting times for certain categories.

By understanding these complex categories and how they work, individuals who want to immigrate based on family connections can have a better idea of what steps they need to take to become permanent residents in the United States.

Employment-Based Immigration: Advancing Economic Growth and Competitiveness

Employment-based immigration plays a critical role in driving economic growth. It attracts skilled workers from around the world, fostering innovation and competitiveness. These immigrants not only fill gaps in the labor market but also contribute significantly to technological advancement and entrepreneurship.

The US immigration system acknowledges this importance by offering several types of employment-based immigrant visas:

  • First Preference (EB-1): This category is for priority workers with extraordinary abilities in arts, science, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; and multinational managers or executives.
  • Second Preference (EB-2): Advanced degree professionals and persons of exceptional ability fall under this category.
  • Third Preference (EB-3): Skilled workers with at least two years of job experience or training, unskilled workers for jobs that are not temporary or seasonal, and professionals with a bachelor’s degree come under this category.
  • Fourth Preference (EB-4): This category includes special immigrants such as religious workers, armed forces members, and certain others.
  • Fifth preference (EB-5): Investors who invest substantial capital in new commercial enterprises that create jobs for U.S. citizens get consideration under this category.

However, due to annual visa quotas, the demand for these visas often exceeds the supply. As a result, there are often significant waiting periods, especially for individuals from certain countries.

While employment-based immigration may seem complex and challenging to navigate, having an understanding of these visa categories can be an important initial step in planning your immigration journey.

Refugee Protection and Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

In the United States, refugee protection is an important part of immigration law. It helps people who are fleeing persecution or danger in their home countries. The U.S. has always been committed to protecting refugees and their rights, which reflects our values as a country.

Here’s how refugee protection works:

  1. Refugees apply for protection while they are outside of the U.S.
  2. If their application is approved, they are allowed to come to the U.S.
  3. Once here, they receive help with finding a place to live and getting settled.

Refugee status is a permanent solution for people who cannot return to their home countries safely. It gives them the opportunity to rebuild their lives in a new place where they can be free from harm.

On the other hand, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a different kind of protection that is available to certain individuals who are already in the U.S. but cannot go back to their home countries due to dangerous conditions. This could be because of things like natural disasters or ongoing conflicts.

Here’s how TPS works:

  1. The Secretary of Homeland Security decides which countries are eligible for TPS based on the severity of the situation there.
  2. People from those countries who meet certain criteria can apply for TPS.
  3. If their application is approved, they are allowed to stay and work in the U.S. temporarily without worrying about being deported.
  4. However, TPS is not a permanent solution. It only lasts for a specific period of time and can be taken away if the situation in the person’s home country improves.

While both refugee protection and TPS are important ways of helping vulnerable individuals, there are some key differences between them:

  • Refugee status is for people who are outside of the U.S., while TPS is for people who are already here.
  • Refugee status is permanent, while TPS is temporary.
  • Refugee status provides more comprehensive benefits and pathways to citizenship, while TPS is more limited in its scope.

These differences highlight the complexities of U.S. immigration policies and the various needs of different immigrant communities.

Diversity Visa Program

The diversity visa program shows the United States’ commitment to creating a diverse society. This lottery system is not just a way for people to immigrate; it also connects the different cultures of the world with the opportunities available in the US.

1. Origins and Objectives

Established under the Immigration Act of 1990, its main goal is to make sure that immigrants in the US come from various countries. This means selecting applicants from countries that have historically sent fewer immigrants to the United States.

2. Application Process

Every year, approximately 50,000 visas are made available through this program. People from eligible countries who want to immigrate must apply online and meet specific requirements:

  1. Have at least a high school education or an equivalent level of education.
  2. Have two years of work experience in a job that requires at least two years of training or experience.

3. Selection and Chance

The selection process is random, but it gives more chances to applicants from countries that are not well-represented in the U.S. immigrant population.

4. Broader Implications

The diversity visa program is important for many reasons:

  • It gives hope to people who want to move to the United States but may not have other opportunities.
  • It shows that everyone, regardless of where they come from, has an equal chance at success.
  • It brings in new ideas and perspectives, which can lead to innovation and growth.
  • It strengthens connections between the United States and other countries.

By bringing in people from different backgrounds, the United States becomes a more vibrant and diverse place. This benefits everyone by creating a richer culture, encouraging creativity, and fostering global relationships.

It’s clear that programs like the diversity visa program play a significant role in shaping both the future population and economy of the United States.

Anticipated Changes in 2024

Immigration policies in the US are always changing due to economic, social, and political factors. The Biden administration plans to make some important changes in 2024 that could have a big impact.

Eight-Year Path to Citizenship

One of the most significant proposals is the introduction of an eight-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. This plan aims to make it easier for these individuals to become citizens:

  1. Temporary status: Undocumented immigrants would first receive a five-year temporary status, allowing them to live and work legally in the country.
  2. Green card application: After five years, they would have the option to apply for a green card, which grants permanent residency.
  3. Citizenship eligibility: Following an additional three years with a green card, they would be eligible to apply for citizenship.

This process is designed to simplify and speed up the usual complicated and lengthy procedure for obtaining citizenship.

Potential Changes in Other Immigration Categories

Alongside the proposed path to citizenship, there may also be changes coming for other immigration programs:

  • Diversity visas: The Biden administration has suggested increasing the annual cap on diversity visas from 55,000 to 80,000. This would provide more opportunities for individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to come to the US.
  • Country-based visa caps: Currently, each country has a limit on how many immigrants it can send to the US each year. Removing or adjusting these limits could result in a fairer distribution of visas.
  • U-visas: U-visas are reserved for victims of certain crimes who cooperate with law enforcement. The proposal recommends raising the cap from 10,000 to 30,000 U-visas issued per year.

These anticipated changes highlight how US immigration policies are always evolving. It’s crucial to stay informed and proactive in understanding how these changes might affect your own immigration journey.

The Role of Nelson Immigration Law in Navigating US Immigration Policies

At the forefront of immigration law, Nelson Immigration Law has established a firm reputation for providing comprehensive and personalized solutions to clients navigating the complex landscape of US immigration policies. Our expertise is grounded in a deep understanding of the intricate facets of immigration law, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), USCIS regulations, and proposed legislative changes.

Navigating through immigration policies can often be a challenging process filled with uncertainties. This is where our role becomes crucial:

  • Interpreting and applying immigration policies: We provide clear explanations and practical application of complex laws and regulations, helping clients understand their rights, opportunities, and obligations under US immigration law.
  • Providing strategic guidance: Based on individual circumstances, we develop tailored strategies to maximize chances of success in family-based or employment-based immigration applications, diversity visa program entries, or TPS claims.
  • Offering ongoing support and representation: From initial consultation through to the final resolution of your case, we stand by our clients every step of the way.

Consulting with a qualified immigration attorney like those at Nelson Immigration Law is not just about navigating legal complexities; it’s about securing your future in the United States. Let us be your trusted guide as you embark on your immigration journey.

Contact Nelson Immigration Law for Expert Guidance on US Immigration Matters

Navigating the complexities of U.S. immigration policies can feel overwhelming. Whether you want to be with your loved ones, explore job opportunities, or seek refuge, having someone who knows the ins and outs of the system is crucial.

That’s where Nelson Immigration Law comes in. We’re a trusted firm known for our client-focused approach and successful track record in helping individuals and families legally immigrate to the United States.

Why Choose Nelson Immigration Law?

  • Proven expertise: Our team of skilled immigration attorneys has extensive knowledge of U.S. immigration law and policies. We understand the challenges you may face and can provide effective solutions tailored to your needs.
  • Personalized guidance: We believe that every case is unique, which is why we take the time to listen to your story and understand your goals. From there, we develop a customized strategy designed to maximize your chances of success.
  • Comprehensive support: Throughout the entire process, we’ll be by your side, providing step-by-step guidance and addressing any concerns you may have. Our goal is to make the immigration journey as smooth and stress-free as possible for you and your family.

How We Can Help

At Nelson Immigration Law, we offer a wide range of services to assist you with your immigration needs:

  1. Family-based immigration: Helping you navigate through the requirements and procedures to reunite with your family members in the United States.
  2. Employment-based immigration: Guiding you through the complexities of obtaining work visas or green cards based on employment opportunities.
  3. Asylum and refugee claims: Assisting individuals fleeing persecution or danger in their home countries to seek protection in the United States.
  4. Citizenship and naturalization: Supporting lawful permanent residents in their journey to become U.S. citizens.
  5. Deportation defense: Providing strong advocacy for individuals facing removal proceedings and fighting to protect their rights.

Contact Us Today

Ready to take the next step? We’re here to help. You can get in touch with us through our online contact form or by giving us a call at 626-683-3451.

One of our friendly team members will be glad to answer your questions and schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

Remember, understanding immigration laws and staying updated on potential policy changes is not merely an option, but a necessity for anyone looking to immigrate successfully. With Nelson Immigration Law by your side, this process becomes significantly less intimidating and far more manageable.


The future of US immigration policies is constantly changing, and it’s crucial to be adaptable and well-informed. These policies are not fixed; they adjust, develop, and modify based on political situations, economic circumstances, and societal influences.

For anyone going through this intricate system, staying updated with the latest updates is essential. Taking proactive steps is just as important. Being proactive by keeping track of expiration dates and submitting necessary documents ahead of time can greatly impact one’s immigration journey.

The expected modifications for 2024 bring both advantages and obstacles. Whether these modifications make the path to citizenship easier or create new challenges is uncertain. However, one thing remains clear: these changes will significantly affect immigrants and their families.

Will there be more opportunities for employment-based immigration? Will family reunification become smoother? What will become of the Diversity Visa Program? These are questions that hang over the future of US immigration policies.

As these changes happen, Nelson Immigration Law is here to support individuals in understanding these complexities. In the following section, we explore how our firm assists clients in navigating US immigration policies.