This morning, Senators Tom Cotton and Sonny Perdue introduced their bill to dramatically alter the immigration system. They unveiled the bill at the White House along with the endorsement of President Trump for their bill. The bill would cut immigration in a way the country hasn’t seen in nearly a century. Family immigration numbers would be cut to the bone and people waiting for years in line would potentially have to start all over. The bill likely has no chance of moving in Congress, fortunately.

 

Section 1. The bill is to be referred to as the ‘‘Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act’’ or the ‘‘RAISE  Act’’.

Section 2. ELIMINATION OF DIVERSITY VISA PROGRAM.

The Diversity Visa program is eliminated. This takes effect on the first day of the fiscal year that begins after the legislation is enacted.

 

Section. 3. ANNUAL ADMISSION OF REFUGEES.

Limits refugee admissions to 50,000 per year. The INA set a limit of 50,000 in the early 1980s for three years, but since then, the INA has permitted the President to set the level.

 

Section. 4. FAMILY-SPONSORED IMMIGRATION PRIORITIES.

Changes the definition of a “child” for immediate relative sponsorship to 18 from 21. This means US citizens sponsoring children no longer get the benefit of quota free sponsorship if a child turns 18.

Parents are no longer considered immediate relatives for family immigration purposes.

The worldwide family quota is cut from 480,000 to 88,000 minus the number of people paroled in to the US under 212(d)(5) who have not departed the US within 365 days and have not received a green card within two years of getting parole status. This presumably will eat up all of the 88,000 numbers meaning only immediate relatives (spouses and children under 18 of US citizens) will be able to immigrate (though I am not sure the number of parolees is available to determine the likely impact of this provision).

The system will work somewhat differently than now. Currently, the 480,000 is the starting number for the four preference categories for family cases. Immediate relative numbers are subtracted from the 480,000 and then the remaining numbers are divided according the allotments in each preference category. Under the proposed system, there will be 88,000 with parolee numbers subtracted, but not immediate relatives. My educated guess is this will still represent the virtual elimination of all the categories except immediate relatives and immediate relative numbers will be dramatically reduced as well because of the changed definition of who can qualify.

All other family immigration categories except spouses and minor children of permanent residents are eliminated. That includes F-1 adult single children of US citizens, F-2 adult children of permanent residents, F-3 adult married children of US citizens and F-4 siblings of US citizens.

To the extent any family green card numbers are left, 75% of the numbers are not subject to per country limits.

Parents of US citizens will be eligible for a “W” non-immigrant visa for up to five years with the possibility of extending if the citizen child continues to reside in the US. Parents will not be eligible to be employed or eligible for any public benefits. The child must prove he or she has arranged for the parent to get health insurance at no cost to the parent.

The provisions of this section will take effect on the first day of the fiscal year that begins after the legislation is enacted.

Pending applications in eliminated categories are voided except for ones for people scheduled to get green cared within one year and entry to the US must happen within a year of the bill’s enactment.

 

Section 5. REPLACEMENT OF EMPLOYMENT-BASED IMMIGRATION CATEGORIES WITH IMMIGRATION POINTS SYSTEM.

Employment-based numbers are to be divided with a limit of 50% being available in each six month period (this sounds similar to the H-2B where half are allocated for each half of the fiscal year).

The worldwide quota remains at 140,000 (the number currently available per year in the EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 and EB-4 categories.

Spouses and children are included in the 140,000 quota (i.e. kids and spouses reduce the number of total green cards available to high-skilled workers).

Per country quotas no longer apply (though backlogs are not likely to go away – see below).

Points-based green card applications will be submitted to USCIS online. The filing fee will be $160 (which will adjust for inflation) and USCIS will describe what documentation will be needed for applying.

Tie-breaking factors –

  1. education doctoral degrees > professional degrees > masters degrees > bachelor’s degrees > high school degrees
  1. if the educational level is the same, then English skills are the tie-breaker.
  1. if English test scores are the same, then the person closer to 25 wins.

Applicants who apply will remain in the eligibility pool for 12 months and then will have to reapply.

Every six months, the USCIS Director will invite the top-ranked people to file a green card application. The number invited will be the estimate of how many will yield 50% use of the available green card numbers. Applicants will have 90 days to file immigrant visa applications after this. Proof of points eligibility will be submitted as well as proof an employer is providing health insurance. The filing fee for the immigrant visa is $345 (which will adjust for inflation).

If more applications are received than available in the annual allotment, then the visa will given an immigrant visa, will have the number pulled from the next fiscal year and admission is to be delayed until the next fiscal year.

Adult children who are unable to care for themselves may enter with their parents on a temporary visa.

Points-based immigrant visa recipients are ineligible for public benefits for five years (which is the current law, incidentally, for all green card recipients).

To be eligible to apply in the points system, applicants must have at least 20 points.

Points for age –

  • 0-17 years – no points
  • 18-21 years – 6 points
  • 22-25 years – 8 points
  • 26-30 years – 10 points
  • 31-35 years – 8 points
  • 36-40 years – 6 points
  • 41-45 years – 4 points
  • 46-50 years – 2 points
  • 51 and over – no points

 

Education highest level obtained

  • US or foreign high school degree – 1 point
  • Foreign bachelor’s degree – 5 points
  • US bachelor’s degree – 6 points
  • Foreign master’s degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field – 7 points
  • US master’s in STEM field – 8 points
  • Foreign professional degree or doctorate in STEM field – 10 points
  • US professional degree or doctorate in STEM field – 13 points

 

English-language proficiency

Points allocated from 0 to 12 points based on test scores

 

Extraordinary achievement

Nobel prize or “comparable recognition” – 25 points

Olympic medal or placed first in an international sporting event in which the best athletes in an Olympic sport were represented – 15 points

Note that there are no points for extraordinary ability in the arts, education, business or other categories

 

Job offer

Applicant has a job offer that pays 150-200% of median salary in the state where the job is located – 5 points

Applicant has a job offer that pays 200-300% of median salary in the state where the job is located – 8 points

Applicant has a job offer that pays 300+% of median salary in the state where the job is located – 13 points

Applicants who don’t have at least a bachelor’s degree and score points based on a job offer are ineligible for points-based green cards.

 

Investment in a new commercial enterprise

$1,350,000 investment – 6 points if the applicant invests this amount and maintains the investment for at least 3 years and plays an active role in the management of the business as the applicant’s primary occupation.

$1,800,000 investment – 12 points if the applicant invests this amount and maintains the investment for at least 3 years and plays an active role in the management of the business as the applicant’s primary occupation.

 

Family-based applicants eliminated from eligibility under the bill may potentially be eligible for two points for that reason

The number of points may be adjusted downward if the spouse would score a lower number (apparently wanting to reward couples where both are high scorers)

USCIS must issue statistical reports to Congress after the first year and then every year; an interagency report shall be issued every four years to determine needed changes in the point system

NOTE – There are no points categories for religious workers or for doctors working in underserved areas.

 

Section 6. PREREQUISITE FOR NATURALIZATION.

People who have not complied with an affidavit of support because the beneficiary received means-tested public benefits are ineligible to naturalize.

 

Greg Siskind

Greg Siskind

Greg Siskind is a partner with Siskind Susser, PC - Immigration Lawyers. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, he received his law degree at the University of Chicago. He created the first immigration law web site in 1994 and the first law blog in 1997. He's written four books and currently serves on the board of governors of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He can be reached by email at gsiskind@visalaw.com.
Greg Siskind

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