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US immigration legislation online


1990 Immigration and Nationality Act (An act to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to change the level, and preference system for admission, of immigrants to the United States, and to provide for administrative naturalization, and for other purposes)

S. 358; Pub.L. 101-649; 104 Stat. 4978.

101st Congress; November 29, 1990.

You can find the full text of this law as a PDF here.


SUMMARY (Focus on diversity visas provision)

Among other provisions, the 1990 Immigration Act instituted the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. Starting in 1991, every year the Attorney General, decides from information gathered over the most recent five year period the regions or country that are considered High Admission or Low Admission States. A High Admission region or country is one that has had 50,000 immigrants or more acquire a permanent residency visa. The High Admission regions are not given visas under this act in order to promote diversity. There are 6 different regions: Africa; Asia; Europe; North America; Oceania; South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Visas are given to countries in these regions that do not meet the quota. To qualify for this visa the immigrants must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. They must have at least 2 years of work experience along with 2 years of training at that job. The Secretary of State must keep track of the immigrants’ age, occupation, education, and what they consider important characteristics or information. The Secretary of State issues visas to the immigrants who meet all these qualifications using random selection. The children and the spouses of the immigrants that are approved are also granted visas to obtain permanent residency. Displaced Tibetans were given 1,000 immigrant visas starting in 1991 for a 3 year period.

(Summary by Stephanie Stone and Christina Faubert)



Statement on Signing the Immigration Act of 1990 - President George H.W. Bush’s response to signing the 1990 Immigration Act.

New rules on immigration: Immigration Act of 1990 - 1991 article from Nation's Business.

The Impact of the Immigration Act of 1990 on U.S. Immigration - An academic paper that compares immigration after the 1990 Immigration Act to projections of what it would have been like without the 1990 changes.

1990 immigration law means good news, bad news for international scholars - Although the 1990 Immigration Act did help promote diversity in immigration, it also made it harder for Professors to come to America to teach.


Many thanks to Hein Online for document provision, and The University of Washington-Bothell Library, for arranging web hosting. If you have any questions about this site, please contact the course instructor, Sarah Starkweather, at sarah [dot] starkweather [at] gmail [dot] com.