Supreme Court Allows Texas Law Targeting Illegal Immigration to Take Effect Despite Dissent

The Supreme Court issued an order on Tuesday permitting a Texas law to be enforced, granting state law enforcement the authority to detain individuals suspected of illegally entering the United States from Mexico. The statute in question, known as S.B. 4, faced dissent from the three liberal justices. Although this decision does not represent a final judgment, it paves the way for the controversial law’s implementation, with the possibility of further legal proceedings.

The Biden administration had advocated for blocking the law, labeling it as an unprecedented intrusion into federal immigration enforcement. U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar emphasized the inconsistency of S.B. 4 with federal law, asserting that it is preempted in all its applications. The law, signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, criminalizes illegal immigration at the state level, granting authority to local law enforcement for apprehension and potential deportation of individuals suspected of crossing the U.S.-Mexico border unlawfully.

In opposition to the majority’s decision, the liberal justices expressed concern regarding the potential ramifications of enforcing the law. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, criticized the move, citing potential chaos in immigration enforcement. Additionally, Justice Elena Kagan voiced her dissent separately.

Texas defended the law by asserting the state’s constitutional right to self-defense, arguing that the Biden administration had failed to adequately address border security concerns. The state contended that the issues raised should not be within the purview of federal courts, especially considering that state courts have yet to interpret S.B. 4’s provisions.

The White House denounced the Supreme Court’s decision, condemning the law as harmful and unconstitutional. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre highlighted concerns regarding its impact on community safety, law enforcement, and the potential for confusion at the southern border. Jean-Pierre urged congressional Republicans to support a bipartisan Senate border security bill, which has faced opposition from former President Trump and numerous GOP lawmakers.

The ruling elicited alarm from immigration advocates and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who warned of increased racial profiling and civil rights violations. Representative Joaquin Castro criticized the court’s decision, expressing concerns about potential targeting of individuals perceived as immigrants by law enforcement. Immigration groups echoed these concerns, emphasizing the risks to both undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens.

The legal battle over S.B. 4 now shifts back to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where Texas’s appeal on the law’s merits is being heard. The court has expedited its review, scheduling oral arguments for April 3, with the possibility of further appeal to the Supreme Court. Texas has been at the forefront of aggressive immigration enforcement measures, challenging Biden administration policies and implementing its own initiatives under Governor Abbott’s Operation Lone Star.

In previous clashes with the federal government, Texas has faced legal challenges over measures such as installing buoys in the Rio Grande and concertina wire along the border. Despite initial victories, such as the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the cutting of concertina wire, legal battles persist as Texas continues its efforts to exert control over immigration enforcement within its borders.

Green Card Approval Rate Reached Record Lows In 2023-24

Since the 1920s, the United States has tightly restricted legal immigration. This century of low legal limits has produced high levels of illegal immigration and a historic level of requests for green cards. This paper concisely reviews the history of immigration caps and charts this backlog’s development. It reveals a legal immigration system that is utterly failing to direct aspiring immigrants to pursue the American dream in lawful and orderly ways.

Only about 3 percent of the people who have submitted green card applications will receive permanent status in the United States in fiscal year (FY) 2024. At the start of this fiscal year, approximately 34.7 million applications were pending—up from about 10 million in 1996. Legal immigration caps plus uncapped categories permit only about 1.1 million green cards for FY 2024, meaning that 97 percent of green card applicants will not receive one this year.

Congress should see these green card applicants as a historic opportunity to unleash the economic potential of immigrants. Approving all existing applicants and increasing legal immigration nearly fivefold would shield the United States from many adverse consequences of demographic decline and reduce illegal immigration. Even with this seemingly massive increase in admissions, America’s immigrant population share would remain below the share in Canada, and US population and labor force growth would stay under their levels of the 1980s. Yet every day that passes without reform only makes finding a sensible solution to immigration more difficult. Congress should act now.

The Creation of Unprecedented Green Card Requests

For its first century and a half, the United States had few restrictions on legal immigration. Except for the Chinese after 1882 and other Asians later, immigrants did not even apply for permission to travel to US borders.1 They simply arrived at a US port of entry and requested admission. Inspectors were required to admit anyone who showed no evidence of falling into a barred category and grant them the historically equivalent status of a modern legal permanent resident—that is, someone with the permanent right to reside in the United States. Under this system, 98.1 percent of immigrant applicants were admitted from 1888 to 1921 (Figure 1 and Tables A.1–A.3 in the Appendix).Green Card Approval Rate Reached Record Lows In 2023 24

During that time, everyone other than the Chinese was presumed eligible to immigrate legally. After the Immigration Act of 1924, the presumption flipped.2 From that point forward, everyone was presumed ineligible until they proved their eligibility for an immigrant visa—that is, authorization to travel to the United States to request permanent residence. Proving eligibility soon became extremely difficult or impossible since Congress also banned almost all Asians and subjected immigrants in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East to new low caps on immigrant visas (or green cards).

By 1929, the new restrictive system had slashed total legal immigration by 77 percent from its pre–World War I levels. During the initial period after the first caps were imposed in 1921, most immigrants were refused admission because the visa cap set by Congress for the immigrant’s country was full. The number of backlogged immigrant visa applicants reached two million by 1929. The share of immigrant applicants who were admitted plummeted from 98 percent in 1921—the last year before the quotas went into effect—to 12 percent (Figure 1 and Tables A.1–A.3 in the Appendix). For many countries subject to caps, the cuts were more drastic.

In 1930, State Department officials implemented a new policy to deny those waiting for immigrant visas, claiming that they would become “public charges”—that is, people who cannot support themselves.3 Before 1930, able‐​bodied applicants were not deemed “likely to become public charges” because the vast majority found jobs and supported themselves, which remained true even in the 1930s.4 In creating its new policy, however, the State Department simply pointed to higher‐​than‐​normal US unemployment rates to exclude most applicants. As a result, immigrant visa rejections, which drop applications from the waitlists, exploded from 3.4 percent of applicants in 1928 to over 87 percent in 1934 (see red bars in Figure 1).

Green Card Approval Rate Reached Record Lows In 2023 24

The high rate of denials reduced applications, which eliminated visa backlogs in all but two countries and kept legal immigration far below the annual caps. The buildup of people wanting to immigrate, however, continued unobserved. In 1934, the State Department estimated that nearly a million people would be ready to apply for immigrant visas if the public‐​charge policy changed.5 The high denial rates did moderate somewhat in the late 1930s, and waiting lists grew again, reaching 720,000 by June 1940—about half from Germany alone.6 During World War II, the State Department shut down the receipt of new immigrant visa registrations,7 and the admission rate hit a historic low of about 3 percent in 1943, a rate unmatched until this decade.

After World War II, the percentage of applicants admitted started to recover slowly (Figure 2 and Tables A.1–A.3 in the Appendix). Thanks to lower denial rates, fewer cap spots went to waste. At the same time, Congress passed laws to temporarily raise caps for refugees and exempt more applicants from the caps. These exceptions included all spouses of US citizens (1952), parents of US citizens (1965), and Cubans (1966). Immigration also increased from the uncapped Western Hemisphere. In 1965, Congress began to allow unused cap spots to be redistributed to backlogged nationalities. But expansion was then paired with restriction. Starting in FY 1969, Congress capped legal immigration from Western Hemisphere countries. Thereafter, the admitted share fell from 1969 to 1989 before rising temporarily when Congress waived the caps for nearly three million immigrants receiving amnesty.

In the 1990s, however, requests for green cards spiked to unprecedented levels, sending the share of applicants admitted to the lowest rate since World War II. This spike resulted from a buildup of potential applicants without close US family ties and who had given up on applying for green cards once their “nonpreference” category stopped receiving cap space in the 1970s. In response, Congress created annual green card lotteries for these nonpreference immigrants starting in the late 1980s. Unlike other applicants, who wait in line year after year, unselected lottery entrants are rejected at the end of the year, leading to a significant increase in the number of outright “rejected” applicants (red bars in Figure 2).

Before the caps were imposed in 1921, an average of 98 percent of immigrants were approved each year. After the caps, the average year saw just 16 percent admitted. By 2023, just 3.8 percent of green card applicants received them—a 96.2 percent exclusion rate. In 2024, the rate will be even lower: just 3 percent.

Another reason for the buildup in green card requests is that the government has repeatedly failed to issue all the green cards available under the caps. Although this failure explains only a part of the backlog, correcting it would have meaningfully addressed the low rate of issuances over the past century. During the early 1930s, cap space went to waste because most applicants were wrongly denied as public charges. From the 1930s until 1965, cap space from countries with few applications went to waste because it could never be transferred to countries with high demand—a policy that Congress finally changed in 1965. Starting in the 1990s, green card cap space has again repeatedly gone unfilled, largely because of administrative processing delays that cause some of the allotment not to be issued before the end of the year.8

Approximately 6.3 million green card cap spots have gone to waste in this way since 1921. Thanks to the caps and wasted green cards, the few uncapped immigration categories (mainly spouses, minor children, and parents of US citizens and legalized immigrants) have been the primary driver of the growth in US immigrant admissions (Figure 3). To rectify these errors, Congress should require that these 6.3 million green cards be added to future caps.

Green Card Requests in 2024

Figure 4 shows the total requests for green cards and the caps for FY 2024 compared with FY 1996. The total caps (plus processing capacity for uncapped categories) amount to just under 1.1 million for FY 2024. This is compared with a total applicant pool of nearly 35 million—using the most recent data available. In other words, 97 percent of green card applicants who have already applied will not receive green cards this coming year.

Although this paper will refer to them as “applicants,” these aspiring immigrants are mostly stuck at earlier stages in the process before they can even formally submit a green card application. Most are waiting for a cap number to become available or for a decision on whether they will be selected by the green card lottery, which will determine when they can file a formal green card application. The purpose of this paper is not to show how strictly officials are reviewing these final green card applications but to show how few immigrants who start the process make it to approval.

Table 1 shows the number of pending green card applicants by category for 2019 and 2024. The largest growth has occurred in the asylum category, with the family, employment, and immediate relative categories accounting for most of the rest. About 5.6 million of these applicants are already inside the United States, including most employment‐​based and humanitarian applications and many family‐​based applications. Nothing precludes someone from applying for multiple green card options simultaneously. The extent of duplicate applications is unknown, but it cannot massively sway the general picture—the overwhelming majority of applicants will not get green cards.

Of course, the number of applications for green cards does not reflect the true desire for legal immigration over time because the rules governing who can apply are constantly changing. For example, when the nonpreference category for immigrants without family ties ceased to receive any cap spots in the 1970s, people naturally stopped applying for the category, which reduced applications in the 1980s. When Congress created the green card lottery, the blocked applicants reappeared again. Nonetheless, the green card approval rate can provide a useful measure of just how restrictive legal immigration has become.

The Green Card Lottery: 22.2 Million (0.2 Percent Will Receive Green Cards in 2024)

By far the largest number of applicants appears in this green card category annually, with nearly 22.2 million applicants in 2023 (for the FY 2024 lottery). Unlike other categories, lottery entrants not selected and approved before the end of the year must reapply the following fiscal year if they want to try again. The lottery cap for FY 2024 will be about 55,000. This lottery cap was created in the Immigration Act of 1990 and has never been expanded despite a nearly fivefold increase in requests for green cards. The win rate for the lottery has fallen about 80 percent since 1995, when the first lottery was held, to about 0.25 percent—a 1 in 400 chance of receiving a green card (Figure 5).

Family‐​Sponsored Green Cards: 8.3 Million (8 Percent Will Receive Green Cards in 2024)

The family‐​sponsored immigration system is divided into two parts. The first part consists of capped categories for spouses and minor children of green card holders as well as for adult children and siblings of US citizens. The cap is 226,000. The second part consists of immediate relatives—including spouses, minor children, and parents of US citizens—and has no cap, but thanks to onerous procedures, the government still fails to process all the immediate relative applications that are submitted every year, leading to a processing backlog for these applicants. As Figure 6 shows, the number of pending family‐​sponsored applicants has increased almost every year since the 1970s, increasing from about half a million to 8.3 million. As a result of the backlogs, new applicants in some categories will face lifetime waits for many country‐​category combinations.9

Employment‐​Based Green Cards: 1.8 Million (8 Percent Will Receive Green Cards in 2024)

The employment‐​based green card backlog has grown to 1.8 million as of March 2023—up from about 1.2 million in 2018 when the government first provided detailed data (Figure 7). The overall cap is set at 140,000 per year plus any unused family‐​sponsored green cards. Because of a policy that ceased the issuance of family‐​sponsored immigrant visas from 2020 through 2022, the employment‐​based cap temporarily increased from 2021 to 2023. Despite these increases, however, requests have consistently far outstripped supply.

In FY 2024, about 8 percent of pending employment‐​based applications will be approved for a green card. But most of these green cards will not go to the applicants who have waited the longest. Instead, because of the country caps, applicants who apply over the next year will pass applicants from China and India—many of whom have already waited more than a decade. In fact, Indians—who make up half the applicants in the employer‐​sponsored categories—must wait more than a century for a green card.10

Asylum: 1.8 Million (3 Percent Approved in 2024)

Since 1980, immigrants who receive asylum in the United States also have the option to obtain a green card. Asylum applicants must be in the United States or at a port of entry. Figure 8 shows the asylum backlog from 1980 to 2023. Nearly 1.8 million immigrants have applied for asylum and have pending cases. Unlike other categories, there is no cap on asylum, but the government processes fewer applications than it receives, which causes a backlog. Also, unlike other categories, where the vast majority of applicants are approved once a cap spot is available, and once someone gets around to processing their formal application, most asylum applicants are denied.

The high denial rate for asylum is a result of both the government’s very restrictive asylum laws and its cramped interpretation of them. Only 3 percent of asylum applicants will receive a grant in 2023, roughly 9 percent will be denied, and the rest will wait. To actually obtain a green card, asylees must file a subsequent application one year after receiving asylum, but it is primarily the initial applications that are caught in the bottleneck and are subject to the high denial rate.

Refugee Program: 358,000 (35 Percent Approved in 2024)

Like asylum, the refugee program has existed since 1980 to allow people facing persecution in their home countries to relocate to the United States. Unlike asylum, however, the US government strictly limits how many people may submit refugee applications, the cap of which is set annually by the president. Unfortunately, the government has not published regular updates on the number of pending refugee applications since the mid‐​2000s, but it is worth noting that prior to 2006, the backlog was far below the number approved annually (Figure 9), meaning that administrative processing was quick and that almost everyone completed the process in less than a year.

Today, however, the backlog is nearly three times higher than the cap because the government takes so long to process the applications that it chooses to accept. Some reports indicate that the average refugee processing time was five years after being singled out for US resettlement.11 The refugee limit for FY 2024 is 125,000, and there were about 358,000 applications pending during 2023, meaning that at most only 35 percent of applicants can receive a green card in 2024 in theory. In reality, the processing delays have been so severe that the cap was not reached. It is probable that this situation will occur again and that at least some of the cap slots will be lost. In the last month of FY 2023, only 8,762 were admitted. At that pace, about 105,000 slots will be used, and only 29 percent of pending applications will be approved. Admitted refugees can apply to receive green cards after one year.

U Visa Crime Victims: 334,000 (7 Percent Approved in 2024)

The U nonimmigrant visa was created in 2000 for immigrants already in the United States who were the victims of certain crimes and worked with law enforcement on their cases, but it had no implementing regulations until September 2007.12 Figure 9 shows the U nonimmigrant visa backlog since 2009. The U nonimmigrant visa has a cap of 10,000 grants for primary applicants. Derivative family members on the same application are exempt. In 2023, the U nonimmigrant visa backlog was 334,000, and there were approximately 17,500 grants (Figure 10). Adding in denials, it will take over 16 years to process all pending U nonimmigrant visa applications. U nonimmigrant status is not legal permanent residence, but it allows recipients to generally apply for green cards after three years.

The US Can Assimilate Green Card Applicants

Congress should see the massive demand for green cards as a historic opportunity—an untapped, underutilized resource that can aid the country. Backlogged immigrants are likely to enter the United States and start working at higher rates than the general population, and they also appear to be more educated on average.13 The United States is facing both short‐ and long‐​term demographic and economic challenges that these aspiring Americans can help address. The US population in the 2020s is growing at the slowest rate in history (Figure 11), and almost all the growth in the past year came from immigration. The slowdown and eventual decline of the US population will have massively negative consequences for US economic growth in the 21st century.

The slowdown in population growth is so great that even 35 million new immigrant workers would be insufficient to meet the labor needs of the United States over the next decade. To fund Social Security at a sufficient level to cover expenses, the United States will need 38 million more workers than the government expects will be in the country by 2035.14 To get the labor force growth rate merely back to the same rate as the 1980s will take 49 million more workers, yet the 2010s saw an increase of fewer than 7 million workers.15 No one should underestimate the capacity of the US economy to handle an influx of tens of millions of additional people.

Of course, increasing the US labor force by 40 million in 10 years through immigration may seem impossible politically because many people perceive the US immigration policy as exceedingly generous. In reality, the United States ranks in the bottom third of wealthy countries for immigrants per capita.16 For the US immigrant share in the United States to reach the size of Canada’s (23 percent), it would take an immediate net increase in the US immigrant population of about over 40 million. To reach the size of Australia’s share (30 percent), it would require over 80 million. The United States has extensive flexibility to change immigration policy and remain well within the normal range for developed countries.

How to Address Green Card Backlogs

To address green card backlogs, Congress should start by waiving the unnecessarily onerous rules and arbitrary caps to approve current green card applicants. Because the current backlog reflects years of unaddressed requests, annual legal immigration would only need to increase more gradually to meet future demand. For instance, the portion of the family‐​sponsored backlog caused by caps that were set in 1990 is about seven million. If those caps had simply increased proportionally to increases in green cards for the uncapped immediate relative categories—an average of just 200,000 per year—six million additional green cards would have been issued in those categories, approving about 85 percent of this backlog.

Overall, since 1990, pending green card requests for family, employment, asylum, lottery, and all other categories have increased at an annual rate of about 800,000 faster than the number of approvals. Congress would need to add at least this amount to the green card caps to prevent green card backlogs from escalating again. But more will likely be needed. Though there are some moderating market and nonmarket forces that would limit how high requests can go, a much larger green card supply would also cause more qualified applicants to apply when they realize that their chances of receiving a green card have greatly increased. For this reason, the annual cap increase would need to exceed 800,000 to prevent a resurgence in the backlog.

Rather than attempt an impossible calculation, after Congress approves the existing backlog, it should assume that annual green card applications will reach about five million—equal to about 1.5 percent of the US population—for the existing categories and build flexibility into the law to allow for adjustments later. Combined with the 35 million pending applications, this creates the potential for 80 million green card issuances over the next decade. Although the United States could certainly absorb 80 million immigrants over a decade, that many green card applicants will not translate into a net increase of that many immigrants. Many green card applicants are already in the United States. Many other applicants abandon immigrating because opportunities or obligations arise in their home countries or elsewhere. Other applicants die, and among the immigrants who do come, enormous numbers return to their home countries.

During the past decade, for instance, the total immigrant population—legal and illegal—increased by just five million.17 During that time, the United States issued about 10 million green cards—about half to people outside the country and half to people adjusting from a temporary status or no status, and given the length of temporary visas, it is likely most of these entered during the past decade as well.18 The government also released over three million people at the border and recorded another two million illegal entrants who escaped apprehension.19 Millions more overstayed their visas.20 Given this reality, Congress should assume that every two green card applications translate into an increase of at most one immigrant over a 10‐​year period.

Granting green cards to the 35 million applicants in 2024 and then permanently increasing legal immigration to 5 million annually would likely increase the US immigrant population by only about 40 million by 2033, leading to an immigrant share of 22 percent. It would take until 2036 for the United States to hit Canada’s current 23 percent. The United States would still be tens of millions of immigrants below what it would take to reach the 28 percent the Canadian government predicts its country will reach by 2036.21 Nonetheless, such a substantial reform would erase the buildup of green card applications and put America back on a fiscally and economically sustainable demographic path. It would also greatly reduce illegal immigration.


A century of dysfunctional and restrictive immigration policy has led to an unprecedentedly high number of green card requests. Only 3 percent of green card applicants waiting for approval will likely receive permanent residence in the United States in 2024. In a world where 97 percent of applicants are turned away, the vast majority of people around the world feel that they have no way to come to the United States legally. This accurate perception leads millions to enter illegally.

The buildup of 35 million green card applicants may seem politically impossible to fix, but the United States has the capacity to assimilate an even larger number. With population and labor force growth near all‐​time lows, Congress should seize the chance to improve the country’s long‐​term demographic outlook. There is no reason to turn away people who will contribute significantly to America’s economy and society.

The Smooth Path to a Second Passport: 15 Easily Attainable Countries for US Citizens

In the ever-expanding global landscape, the pursuit of a second passport has become increasingly popular, offering a plethora of economic and social advantages. Once considered an unthinkable concept, dual citizenship has gained acceptance, leading to the identification of numerous countries that offer accessible paths for U.S. citizens seeking a second passport. This article delves into the growing demand for second passports, the methods of obtaining them, and highlights the 15 easiest countries for U.S. citizens to acquire a second passport.

Growing Demand for Second Passports:

The escalating interest in second passports has led to a significant number of Americans relocating globally, with approximately 9 million residing abroad, according to recent estimates from the State Department. Notably, 40% of U.S. residents abroad choose destinations in the Western Hemisphere, while 26% move to Europe, and 14% each to East Asia and the Pacific, and the Middle East. This trend is further exemplified by prominent figures such as Sam Altman, Eric Schmidt, and Peter Thiel obtaining foreign citizenships.

Methods to Obtain a Second Passport:

The article outlines four primary paths for acquiring a second passport: citizenship through birth/descent, marriage, investment, and residency-by-investment programs or naturalization. Dual citizenship offers various benefits, including global travel access, enhanced social and economic opportunities, and tax reliefs. The advantages and disadvantages of dual citizenship are discussed in a detailed analysis provided in another article.

Multinationals Expanding to Europe:

The European market, comprising some of the largest global economies, has witnessed a surge in multinational companies (MNCs) expanding their operations. Ireland, in particular, experienced a significant positive impact in 2022, with MNCs contributing 56% to its total value added. Companies like Apple, Facebook, Pfizer, and Google played a pivotal role in sectors such as information and communication. Notably, Pfizer secured EU anti-trust approval for its $43 billion acquisition of Seagen, while Apple expanded its Self Service Repair program in 24 additional European countries.

15 Easiest Countries for Second Passport for US Citizens:

The article employs a comprehensive methodology, combining research on the best and most straightforward options with cross-referencing findings from’s list of countries allowing dual citizenship for U.S. citizens. The list spans diverse regions, including Latin America, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, and the Caribbean Islands. The top 15 countries are ranked based on their ease of providing second passports for U.S. citizens.

  1. Portugal:

Portugal stands out as the easiest country for U.S. citizens to obtain a second passport, thanks to its Golden Visa program, which requires a minimal physical presence of only seven days a year. The process involves a two-year residency after a €250,000 investment, with citizenship potentially accessible after five years.

  1. Malta:

Malta has become a preferred destination for individuals worldwide, including Americans, seeking a second citizenship. The country’s Citizenship for Exceptional Services Regulations (CES) program allows qualified investors to acquire citizenship in either 12 or 36 months, depending on their investment in the national development fund.

  1. Dominica:

Dominica emerges as a convenient choice for U.S. citizens looking for a second passport among the beautiful Caribbean islands. The country’s citizenship-by-investment programs offer a swift and straightforward pathway, with a $100,000 investment leading to a Dominican passport in just four months.

  1. Spain:

Spain distinguishes itself as one of the most accessible countries for U.S. residents seeking a second passport through its residency-by-investment program. The Golden Visa entails a significant investment of €500,000, leading to permanent residency after five years and potential citizenship after an additional five years.

  1. Mexico:

Mexico stands as an appealing destination for U.S. expats, attracting them with its low cost of living, affordable healthcare, and pleasant weather. The country offers a straightforward process for U.S. residents to acquire a second passport, especially through citizenship by descent, which is simple and cost-effective.

  1. Grenada:

Grenada secures the sixth position on our list of the easiest countries for U.S. citizens to obtain a second passport. This is primarily attributed to the expeditious process offered by its citizenship-by-investment program, where a minimum investment of $150,000 for a single person leads to citizenship within three to six months.

  1. Antigua and Barbuda:

The Caribbean Islands remain among the easiest routes for U.S. residents seeking a second passport, with Antigua and Barbuda being a prominent choice. The country’s low investment amount of $100,000 and straightforward process allow citizenship to be obtained in about three to four months.

  1. Cyprus:

Cyprus is recognized as one of the most accessible countries offering citizenship through its residency-by-investment program. The Golden Visa allows individuals to acquire residency rights within three months with an investment of at least €300,000, paving the way for potential citizenship in approximately seven years.

  1. Canada:

Canada is widely regarded as one of the most accessible countries for U.S. residents seeking dual citizenship, owing to its welcoming environment and straightforward immigration process. While visa-free stays of up to 180 days are permitted, longer stays require a visa or residency permit, with pathways like the Express Entry System facilitating citizenship after fulfilling residency requirements.

  1. Ireland:

Ireland emerges as a favored immigration destination, notably through its Descent Program, which grants citizenship rights based on ancestral connections or marriage to an Irish citizen. A residency requirement of at least three years with the spouse or partner makes Ireland an accessible option for obtaining a second passport for U.S. citizens.

  1. Vanuatu:

Vanuatu stands out in the Pacific region as the leading provider of citizenship through its exclusive citizenship-by-investment program. U.S. residents can acquire citizenship by investing $130,000, enjoying tax benefits and a streamlined process completed in approximately two months.

  1. St. Lucia:

St. Lucia, akin to St. Kitts and Nevis, emerges as one of the easiest choices for U.S. citizens seeking a second passport. The country’s investment program necessitates a $100,000 contribution to the Government Development Fund, facilitating dual citizenship for the investor and their family within just three months.

  1. St. Kitts and Nevis:

St. Kitts and Nevis, nestled in the Caribbean, attract U.S. residents seeking natural beauty and financial opportunities. The citizenship-by-investment program offers one of the quickest routes for U.S. citizens to obtain a second passport, with a $250,000 payment to the Sustainable Island State Contribution (SISC) and completion of the immigration process in just four months.

  1. Italy:

Italy distinguishes itself as one of the most accessible European countries for U.S. residents seeking citizenship through descent. Documentation of Italian descent, including birth certificates and family records, qualifies individuals for citizenship if specific conditions, such as citizenship acquisition by the ancestor before June 14, 1912, are met without renunciation or replacement.

  1. New Zealand:

New Zealand, situated in the Asia and South Pacific region, provides a straightforward pathway for obtaining citizenship through descent. If one parent is a New Zealand citizen, the child can acquire citizenship within approximately 30 working days, with an expedited processing option available in just 10 days for an additional fee. This placement is based on the country’s ease of obtaining citizenship through descent and its allowance for dual citizenship for U.S. residents.

US Senate Unveils $118.28 Billion National Security Supplemental Package: Key Provisions Benefit Indians and Address Global Concerns

The Senate of the United States unveiled a national security supplemental package amounting to US$118.28 billion on Sunday, encompassing various provisions aimed at border reform, crucial financial allocations for Ukraine and Israel, and provisions for humanitarian assistance. Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz) collaborated on this agreement, which is now awaiting Congress’s approval. If passed, it would mark a significant milestone in border security and migration legislation.

The proposed bill holds significant implications for Indians, primarily through the allocation of an additional 250,000 immigrant visas over the next five fiscal years. These visas would be distributed among family-based (32,000 per fiscal year) and employment-based (18,000 per fiscal year) categories, benefiting a substantial number of Indians, who are major beneficiaries of the H1-B visa program. Moreover, the bill intends to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to grant automatic work authorizations to H1-B dependents and provide protection against deportation for dreamers—children of long-term visa holders at risk of aging out.

The bill outlines specific eligibility criteria for dependent children of H-1B visa holders, determining their age based on their age at the time of the initial petition. Individuals must have maintained dependent status for at least eight years before turning 21 and must have sought to obtain lawful permanent residence within two years of an immigrant visa becoming available to them.

Furthermore, the legislation proposes the establishment of a new non-immigrant visa category tailored to benefit numerous Indians residing in the United States with their families. This temporary family visa would permit individuals to visit their relatives in the country for family-related purposes for a limited duration.

In addition to the provisions benefiting Indians, the bill allocates:

– $60.6 billion to continue supporting Ukraine.

– $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel.

– $4.83 billion to counter China and support regional partners in the Indo-Pacific.

– $10 billion for the State Department and USAID to furnish humanitarian aid in Gaza, the West Bank, Ukraine, and other conflict zones worldwide.

– $400 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, aimed at enhancing the safety of nonprofits and places of worship.

– Enhanced asylum screening standards and various asylum-related reforms.

– Expedited citizenship for immigrants serving in the military.

– The FEND Off Fentanyl Act, empowering agencies to disrupt illicit opioid supply chains effectively and penalize individuals involved in fentanyl trafficking.

Study Reveals Challenges Faced by Foreign-Trained Doctors in US, Highlighting Barriers to Medical Practice Integration

A recent study reveals a concerning trend among foreign-trained doctors immigrating to the United States, indicating significant barriers to entering comparable medical roles despite their qualifications and experience. The study, conducted jointly by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and the nonprofit Upwardly Global, examined the experiences of 300 physicians who migrated to the US between 2004 and 2022.

While a majority of these international medical graduates (IMGs), around 85%, managed to secure employment, only a third of them were able to transition into medical residency or practicing as physicians. This disparity underscores the formidable challenges faced by IMGs, who often find themselves compelled to navigate arduous educational and licensing processes anew upon reaching the US.

Despite possessing medical degrees and substantial clinical backgrounds from their home countries, IMGs encounter a daunting set of prerequisites in the US, including passing the rigorous United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), accumulating clinical hours, and securing coveted residency positions. Failing to surmount these hurdles, many IMGs are forced to settle for healthcare roles for which they are overqualified and underpaid, exacerbating their professional frustrations and financial strains.

The study unveils some disheartening statistics regarding the alternative career paths pursued by IMGs who are unable to progress in traditional medical roles. Notably, 23% of IMGs found themselves working as medical assistants, while others gravitated towards roles such as clinical research, medical interpretation, and case management, indicative of their diverse skill sets and adaptability.

Maxim Nikolaevskiy, an obstetrician/gynecologist from Russia who relocated to the US in 2018, empathizes with fellow IMGs who opt for career diversions. Sharing his own experience, Nikolaevskiy reveals how the exigencies of resettlement compelled his wife, also a trained physician, to enroll in a respiratory therapy program, while he himself embarked on a career as a research coordinator. He emphasizes the formidable challenges faced by IMGs in securing residency positions tailored to their unique trajectories, often encountering skepticism and administrative hurdles from residency programs unfamiliar with their backgrounds.

“Multiple residency programs refuse IMGs’ applications, saying they graduated too long ago, without understanding they worked as a physician before,” Nikolaevskiy elucidates, shedding light on the systemic barriers impeding the professional advancement of immigrant doctors in the US.

In response to these challenges, both federal and state-level initiatives have been proposed to alleviate practice barriers for IMGs and address physician shortages, particularly in underserved areas. The Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act, backed by the American Medical Association, seeks to overhaul the J-1 visa waiver program, enabling more immigrant physicians to practice in medically underserved regions rather than being compelled to return to their home countries.

Furthermore, several states, including Alabama and Washington, have implemented legislative reforms aimed at expediting the licensure process for foreign-trained doctors. These measures include provisions allowing IMGs to bypass residency requirements and obtain temporary medical licenses upon meeting specific criteria, such as completing postgraduate training abroad or fulfilling physician duties outside the US.

In addition to legislative efforts, community-based initiatives have emerged to provide support and guidance to IMGs navigating the complexities of the US healthcare system. Dr. Daniel Weber, for instance, established the International Healthcare Professionals Program in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with the aim of offering essential assistance to immigrant doctors.

“It is daunting to master a new language and pass medical licensing and English proficiency exams while working full time to support themselves and their families,” Dr. Weber acknowledges, underscoring the multifaceted challenges confronting IMGs in their pursuit of professional integration.

Despite the formidable obstacles, some IMGs have managed to make significant strides towards resuming their medical careers in the US. Maxim Nikolaevskiy, for instance, recently completed the Bridge to Residency for Immigrant International Doctor Graduates (BRIIDGE) program at the University of Minnesota Medical School, which has paved the way for him to pursue family medicine residency and potentially secure a position in the current cycle.

Reflecting on his journey, Nikolaevskiy expresses gratitude for the opportunities afforded by the BRIIDGE program, which has enabled him to acquire invaluable clinical experience and reignite his aspirations of practicing medicine in the US.

“If not for the BRIIDGE program, I would still be [doing] medical monitoring in clinical trials or pharmacovigilance jobs. I’m grateful for the clinical experience and the people and institutions ready to give me a second chance,” Nikolaevskiy reflects, embodying the resilience and determination of IMGs striving to overcome formidable barriers in pursuit of their professional dreams.

USCIS to Launch Organizational Accounts, Enabling Online Collaboration and Submission of H-1B Registrations

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced the upcoming launch of a package of customer experience improvements for H-1B cap season. The measures are expected to increase efficiency and ease collaboration for organizations and their legal representatives.

USCIS will launch organizational accounts for non-cap filings and the fiscal year (FY) 2025 H-1B cap season. The introduction of organizational accounts will allow multiple individuals within an organization, such as a company or other business entity, and their legal representatives to collaborate on and prepare H-1B registrations, Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and associated Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.

“USCIS is always striving to improve and streamline our processes, and this is a big step forward,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou. “Once we launch the organizational accounts and online filing of I-129 H-1B petitions, the entire H-1B lifecycle becomes fully electronic — from registration, if applicable, to our final decision and transmission to the Department of State.”

USCIS expects to launch the organizational accounts in February 2024, with online filing of Forms I-129 and I-907 following shortly thereafter. In addition to streamlining the Form I-129 H-1B petition process, these changes should help reduce duplicate H-1B registrations and other common errors.

USCIS will also transition the paper filing location for Forms I-129 and I-907 from service centers to the USCIS lockbox as part of our efforts to increase efficiency by standardizing processes and reducing costs.

USCIS will host two national engagements on organizational accounts on Jan. 23 and 24 as well as several smaller sessions leading up to the H-1B registration period to help guide organizations and legal representatives through the process. During these sessions individuals will have the opportunity to ask questions about the organizational accounts in preparation for the FY 2025 H-1B electronic registration process and launch of online filing of Form I-129 for H-1B petitions. USCIS encourages all individuals involved in the H-1B registration and petition filing process to attend these engagements. Invitations to these engagements will be sent later this month. Visit our Contact Public Engagement page to subscribe to notifications about upcoming engagements. Additional details regarding organizational accounts will be available on the H-1B Electronic Registration Process page.

For more information about which forms are eligible for online filing, visit our Forms Available to File Online page.

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USCIS Announces Premium Processing Fee Hike for H-1B Visa Applications

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is set to implement an increase in premium processing fees for H-1B visa applications, effective February 26, 2024.

Under the revised premium processing fee structure, adjustments have been made for forms I-129, I-140, I-539, and I-765. These forms encompass crucial elements of the immigration process, including the immigrant petition for alien worker (I-140), application to change or extend non-immigrant status (I-539), and employment authorization (I-765).

The fee increments are notable, with certain premium processing fees experiencing an uptick from US$1,500 to US$1,685, US$1,750 to US$1,965, and US$2,500 to US$2,805. This represents a 12 percent increase in processing fees for H-1B visas, resulting in a final fee of US$2,805, according to USCIS sources.

These changes are in accordance with the USCIS Stabilization Act, which not only established the existing premium processing fees but also granted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the authority to adjust these fees biennially.

“The Department will use the revenue generated by the premium processing fee increase to provide premium processing services, make improvements to adjudication processes, respond to adjudication demands, including reducing benefit request processing backlogs, and fund USCIS adjudication and naturalization services,” stated an official USCIS spokesperson.

In quoting the USCIS Stabilization Act, the premium processing fees have been designed to play a pivotal role in enhancing various aspects of the immigration system. This includes facilitating premium processing services, streamlining adjudication processes, addressing increased adjudication demands, and mitigating the backlog associated with processing benefit requests.

The decision to increase fees, as outlined by the USCIS, is a strategic move to bolster operational capabilities and enhance overall efficiency. The funds generated through the fee adjustments are earmarked for critical areas, including premium processing services, which are expected to benefit from the additional resources.

While some stakeholders may express concerns over the fee hike, the USCIS asserts that these adjustments are imperative for meeting the growing demands and challenges within the immigration system. The agency aims to allocate resources judiciously to ensure a more streamlined and responsive process for handling immigration-related petitions and benefit requests.

It’s essential to note that the premium processing fee increase is part of a broader strategy outlined in the USCIS Stabilization Act, which empowers the DHS to periodically review and adjust fees to align with the evolving needs of the immigration system.

The USCIS, in justifying the fee adjustments, emphasizes the positive impact they will have on reducing processing backlogs and improving the overall adjudication process. The revenue generated from the fee increase is intended to be a proactive measure in addressing the complexities associated with the influx of immigration-related requests.

The USCIS premium processing fee hike for H-1B visa applications is a carefully considered adjustment aimed at fortifying the agency’s capabilities to manage an ever-evolving immigration landscape. As the changes take effect on February 26, 2024, the increased fees will play a pivotal role in enhancing premium processing services, addressing adjudication demands, and ultimately contributing to the efficiency and responsiveness of the USCIS in fulfilling its mission.