Virginia, US

Aug 02 2017

Immigration Bill Would Create Points System for Employment-Based Permanent Residence

United States

Calling for a transition to a merit-based immigration system that protects U.S. workers, President Trump and Senators Tom Cotton (R-AK) and David Perdue (R-GA) today unveiled the RAISE Act, a bill that would replace the current employment-based green card program with a points-based system.  The bill would also reduce family-based  immigration, limit refugee admissions to 50,000 per year, eliminate the Diversity Visa lottery program and restrict foreign nationals’ access to public benefits.

Points System for Employment-Based Permanent Residence

The bill would replace the five employment-based green card preference categories with a points system modeled on similar Australian and Canadian immigration programs.  The employment-based green card quota would remain capped at 140,000 per year. 

The proposed system would award points on a sliding scale based on each applicant’s education level, offered salary, investment level, achievements, age and English-language proficiency.  The assessment would give priority to:

  • Holders of U.S. advanced STEM or professional degrees;

  • Investors contributing $1.35 million to $1.8 million and taking an active management role in a new commercial enterprise in the United States;

  • Applicants with a U.S. job offer and an offered salary of 1.5 to 3 times the median household income for the state in which the applicant would be employed; and

  • Applicants with extraordinary achievements such as a Nobel Prize, an Olympic medal or a comparable achievement.

Foreign nationals would have to earn at least 30 points on the 100-point assessment to be eligible for an employment-based green card.  Spouses would also undergo a points assessment, though their scores could only decrease or maintain the principal applicant’s score.

Twice a year, the applicants with the highest scores would be invited to apply for permanent residence.  If the application were based on a U.S. job offer, the employer would be required to attest that the applicant would not displace a U.S. worker, among other obligations.

Limits on Family-Based Immigration

Family-based immigration would be significantly restricted as follows:

  • The family-based green card quota would be limited to 88,000 per year, reduced by the number of foreign nationals who had been granted humanitarian parole but did not depart the United States within a year or became permanent residents within two years.

  • The maximum age for dependent children would be reduced to 17 for all U.S. immigration programs, including nonimmigrant visa programs.The current maximum is 20 years of age.

  • The green card category for parents of U.S. citizens age 21 and over would be eliminated and replaced with a temporary visa category that would allow parents to enter the United States for a renewable period of five years, but would not permit them to work or access public benefits.

  • Green card categories for the adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and permanent residents and for the siblings of U.S. citizens would be eliminated.

  • Some approved family-based immigrants in eliminated categories would be grandfathered, while others would be granted points that could be used in an application for employment-based immigration.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

The bill proposes a radical restructuring of the U.S. immigration system consistent with President Trump’s campaign promises, but is likely to face significant opposition from businesses and from pro-immigration members of Congress.

Fragomen is closely following the RAISE Act and will provide updates as developments occur.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.