How The Immigration System Works

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How The Immigration System Works - Quiz

Immigration is a complex issue that lies at the intersection of federal, state, and local policymaking. Many myths and misconceptions surround the topic, making it difficult to have a constructive, well-informed national conversation about immigration policies.
Take our Immigration Facts quiz to test your knowledge of how the immigration system works.


Questions and Answers
  • 1. 

    Approximately what percentage of immigrants living in the United States are unauthorized?

    • A.

      10%

    • B.

      28%

    • C.

      56%

    • D.

      75%

    Correct Answer
    B. 28%
    Explanation
    According to the Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project, unauthorized immigrants made up 28 percent of all U.S. immigrants, down slightly from 30 percent in 2007.

    Source: Pew Research Center

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  • 2. 

    What percentage of unauthorized immigrants arrived on temporary tourist, student, or work visas and stayed after those visas expired, as opposed to those who crossed the border without proper documents?

    • A.

      5%

    • B.

      25%

    • C.

      40%

    • D.

      70%

    Correct Answer
    C. 40%
    Explanation
    Experts estimate that 40 percent of unauthorized immigrants overstayed their visas, and they are most likely to have arrived from Asia, Europe, and Africa.

    Source: Wall Street Journal

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  • 3. 

    What percentage of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States in 2013 arrived before 2000?

    • A.

      5%

    • B.

      24%

    • C.

      39%

    • D.

      57%

    Correct Answer
    D. 57%
    Explanation
    The federal government estimates that about 4 in 10 unauthorized immigrants in the United States as of 2010 arrived during the 1990s. Another 17 percent arrived in the 1980s. This suggests that the majority of unauthorized immigrants have been in the United States for more than 10 years.

    Source: Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics

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  • 4. 

    How do most people admitted for permanent residence, those known as green card holders, enter the United States?

    • A.

      The employment-based system, determined by skills and U.S. labor market needs

    • B.

      The family-based system, which considers relationships to family members in the United States

    • C.

      The refugee system, which admits people for humanitarian reasons

    • D.

      As unauthorized immigrants, outside the legal immigration system

    Correct Answer
    B. The family-based system, which considers relationships to family members in the United States
    Explanation
    Some 66 percent of the green cards granted by the Department of Homeland Security in 2012 were approved based on family relationships with U.S. citizens or what are known as Lawful Permanent Residents; 14 percent were awarded through the employment-based system.

    Source: Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics

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  • 5. 

    Which of these groups can apply for certain family members to join them permanently in the United States?

    • A.

      Green card holders can petition for their parents

    • B.

      U.S. citizens can petition for their cousins

    • C.

      Green card holders can petition for their married children

    • D.

      None of the above

    Correct Answer
    D. None of the above
    Explanation
    U.S. citizens may petition for their parents, spouses, unmarried and married children, and siblings. Green card holders may petition for their spouses and minor unmarried children. In all cases, petitioners must be at least 21 years old, demonstrate an income level above the poverty line, and agree to financially support the family member they are seeking to bring to the United States.

    Source: Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics

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  • 6. 

    Approximately how many people are waiting in the family- and employment-based immigration backlogs?

    • A.

      3,000

    • B.

      100,000

    • C.

      2,500,000

    • D.

      4,400,000

    Correct Answer
    D. 4,400,000
    Explanation
    Because there are more petitions from eligible family members and employers than there are green cards available each year, there are large backlogs of green card petitions. According to the National Visa Center, there were 4,322,575 applicants in the green card backlogs as of Nov. 1, 2012.

    Source: U.S. State Department

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  • 7. 

    Which of the following steps must an employer take to submit a petition to hire a foreign temporary agricultural worker (the H-2A visa category)?

    • A.

      Demonstrate that not enough U.S. workers are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work

    • B.

      Show that the employment of H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers

    • C.

      Demonstrate that the jobs are temporary and seasonal in nature

    • D.

      All of the above

    Correct Answer
    D. All of the above
    Explanation
    Before hiring foreign temporary agricultural workers, an employer must prove that the hires will not displace U.S. workers or reduce wages for similarly employed U.S. farmworkers, and that the jobs are not permanent or year-round.

    Source: Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

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  • 8. 

    Most employers who want to hire foreign temporary specialty or high-skilled workers (requiring H-1B visas) are subject to a national limit on the number of visas that the federal government will grant in a given year. What is the current limit?

    • A.

      5,000

    • B.

      85,000

    • C.

      500,000

    • D.

      1.2 million

    Correct Answer
    B. 85,000
    Explanation
    Currently, 65,000 visas a year are available for H-1B workers, and an additional 20,000 are available to qualified people who have received advanced degrees from U.S. institutions of higher education. However, this limit does not apply to all employers of H-1B workers. For example, many educational institutions and nonprofit entities are not subject to the visa cap.

    In 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions, including those filed for the advanced-degree exemption, within the first week of the filing period. That was more than the number of visas available. The agency then used a computer-generated random selection process to select the petitions that were approved for visas.

    Source: Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

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  • 9. 

    Approximately how many refugees were admitted to the United States in 2012? Refugees are defined as those who can prove a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to their race, membership in a social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin in their home country.

    • A.

      0

    • B.

      1,000

    • C.

      60,000

    • D.

      1 million

    Correct Answer
    C. 60,000
    Explanation
    Each year, the president, in consultation with Congress, sets a worldwide ceiling for the number of refugee admissions. In 2012 the ceiling was 76,000. The actual number of refugees admitted was 58,238. The leading nationalities for these admissions in 2012 were Bhutan (26 percent), Burma (24 percent), and Iraq (21 percent).

    Source: Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics

    Click the “submit my answers” button to complete the quiz and get your score!

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  • 10. 

    What percentage of the U.S. population is foreign-born?

    • A.

      5%

    • B.

      13%

    • C.

      25%

    • D.

      42%

    Correct Answer
    B. 13%
    Explanation
    A 2011 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau found 40.4 million foreign-born people living in the United States, making up 13 percent of the total population. “Foreign-born” refers to people who were not U.S. citizens at birth or who were born outside the United States, Puerto Rico, or other U.S. territories and whose parents are not U.S. citizens. This includes both authorized and unauthorized immigrants. The foreign-born as a percentage of the total U.S. population is lower than historical highs of slightly less than 15 percent between 1890 and 1920.

    Source: Pew Research Center

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