The U.S. issued 467,370 immigrant visas in fiscal year 2014 – a decrease of more than 5,700 compared with 2013 and nearly 15,000 fewer than the number of immigrant visas issued in 2012, according to statistics released by the State Department.

The number of immigrant visas spiked in 2008, rising sharply from the previous year, and reached its highest level in 2012. The number of visas issued in 2014 remained significantly higher than in 2007, but was lower than the number issued in any year since then.

Year Immigrant Visas Issued
2014 467,370
2013 473,115
2012 482,300
2011 476,249
2010 482,052
2009 468,770
2008 470,099
2007 434,411

Source: U.S. State Department. The federal fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

In terms of allocation, the employment preference category represented only 5 percent of immigrant visas in 2014. The family preference category accounted for 42 percent of immigrant visas issued; 39 percent were issued to immediate relatives, 11 percent to diversity immigrants, and 3 percent to special immigrants.

Regionally, applicants from Asia received the most immigrant visas, followed by applicants from North America, Africa, Europe, South America and Oceania. Asia was the only region where immigrant visas increased, with nearly 11,000 more issued compared to last year. Immigrant visas for all other regions declined; North America dropped by 6,579, Africa by 5,316, South America by 3,339 and Europe by 1,280.

Region Immigrant Visas Percent of total
Asia 194,976 42%
North America 152,088 33%
Africa 52,999 11%
Europe 38,686 8%
South America 26,834 6%

Source: U.S. State Department.

The 2014 data are preliminary and subject to change, but the State Department says any change would be statistically insignificant.

BAL Analysis: The decrease in immigrant visas can be attributed to a sharp decline in the number of immediate relatives issued visas in recent years. Visas issued to immediate relatives were down by more than 20,000 compared to 2013 and more than 50,000 compared to 2012. In all other categories, the number of visas issued either rose or remained roughly on par with 2012 and 2013 levels.

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