Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia) plan to introduce the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, which is being endorsed by President Trump. For weeks, we’ve heard that the President would be proposing to cut legal immigration in half. This bill will do that, but it keeps the current number of employment-based green cards intact at 140,000. For those employment-based green cards, the current system of preference categories would be transitioned to a points-based system.
Any applicant meeting the points requirement would first have to file an application to be placed in the “eligible applicant pool.” Once in the pool, the applications are sorted by total points. Applicants remain in the pool for 12 months. Every 6 months, USCIS would “invite” those with the highest points to file a petition proving the number of points met. If the number of green cards has already been met for the year, the application would be delayed until the next fiscal year. If not “invited” to apply within this 12 months, the applicant would have to re-apply to be in the applicant pool for the next year. This bill also specifies that spouse and children do count towards the 140,000, which is the current practice although not necessarily what the current statute says.
To be eligible to joint the pool, you must first get at least 30 points. But, just getting 30 points may not be enough since the green cards would go to those with the most points first. How are the points awarded?
Age – more points are awarded to those aged 26 through 30. The older you are, the fewer points you get.
Education – US doctorate in STEM gets the most points, followed by foreign doctorate in STEM, then US Masters in STEM, foreign masters in STEM, then US bachelor’s in any field.
English language proficiency – higher scores on an English language assessment get more points.
Extraordinary achievement – extra points for Nobel Laureates or Olympic Medalists or similar high-level awards
Job offer – extra points if you have a US job offer with a high salary (points here are only available if the salary offer is at least 150% of the median household income for that State)
Investment and active management of a new business – higher points for higher investment (points begin at the $1.35 million mark)
Spouse – if married and the spouse qualifies for some points, some of them can be added to your score, but not all of them
Every 4 years, a report will be required with recommendations for possible re-allocation of points or adding or removing categories.
This bill would also eliminate the Diversity Visa program (which has been on the chopping block in many previously failed immigration reform bills). Further, it caps the number of green cards for refugees at 50,000 per year and eliminates some of the family-based categories.