The Migration Policy Institute, Pew Research and others note ways that legal immigration is declining.
Suspending and Reducing Refugee Admissions.
The U.S. admitted 84,995 refugees in fiscal 2016. A 110,000 ceiling was set by Obama. Trump almost immediately lowered the ceiling to 50,000, and then to 45,000. Since June 2017 monthly refugee admissions have most been under 2,000. This implies an annual volume of under 2,5000.
Slowing Family Immigration
In fiscal 2016, 804,793 people received family-based U.S. lawful permanent residence. Per the MPI, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services processed 54% of immediate relative petitions in FY 2017, compared to about 67% in FY 2016. Non-immediate relative immigration processing was already low in FY 2016, with roughly 22% of applications adjudicated, but fell even further to 9% in FY 2017. Backlogs for non-immediate relatives increased. It seems likely that USCIS is delaying adjudication of non-immediate relative petitions because of lengthy visa availability backlogs in these categories.
Excluding Public Charges
Per the MPI, the administration has yet to officially unveil an expected policy designed to keep people at risk of becoming public charges out of the country. However, changes seem imminent. Two leaked draft documents—an executive order and a proposed regulation—outline substantive revisions. The policy could effectively reduce green-card grants for low-income individuals and make permanent residents more vulnerable to deportation.
The administration has taken steps to increase the screening of applicants for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, which could have the effect of slowing down admissions. In June 2017, a supplemental questionnaire was rolled out, in which some visa applicants must detail their travel history, residential addresses, and employment information for the past 15 years. In February 2018, the President signed a national security memorandum establishing the National Vetting Enterprise to coordinate and manage the government’s vetting efforts, combining the work of the Departments of Homeland Security, State, and Justice, and the Director of National Intelligence.
More than 320,000 immigrants from 10 nations have permission to live and work in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), because war, hurricanes or other disasters in their home countries could make it dangerous for them to return. Many are expected to lose their benefits in 2018 and 2019. The Trump administration has said it will not renew the program for people from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan, who together account for about 76% of enrolled immigrants.
Under the Trump administration, the number of H-1B applications challenged by the federal government has increased. In addition, the administration has considered restricting the number of years foreign workers can hold H-1B visas.
The State Department reports a total of 393,573 F-1 visas issued for the fiscal year ending 30 September 2017. This represents a 17% decline from the 471,000 F-1s issued in 2016, and a nearly 39% drop in F-1 visa issuance from the recent-year high in 2015.