Which immigration reform did the U.S. President endorse in August 2017?

Last update: February 21, 2018

On August 2nd, 2017, the President of the United States endorsed a bill written by U.S. senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue. The bill is called the ‘RAISE’ act, an acronym for Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act.

Will this bill become law?
It is highly unlikely. In order to become law, it is necessary (although not sufficient) for this bill to pass the U.S. Senate. There are 100 U.S. senators and, under current tules, such a bill requires 60 ‘yes’ votes. However, there are only 52 Republican senators, not all of them agreeing with this bill, when it is likely that the 48 Democrats¹ will all vote ‘no’.

Who would be an ‘immediate relative’ under the bill?
Only 1) spouses of U.S. citizens; 2) unmarried children of U.S. citizens who are 17 years old or younger (as opposed to 20 years old or younger right now). That’s it. Parents of U.S. citizens would no longer be ‘immediate relatives’, and could only apply for a 5-year visa under certain circumstances.

What would happen to family-based preferences under the bill?
The following family-based preferences would no longer exist:

  • Unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens (first preference)
  • Unmarried adult children of green card holders (second preference, B)
  • Married adult children of U.S. citizens (third preference)
  • Siblings of U.S. citizens (fourth preference)

What would happen to diversity visas under the bill?
The ‘lottery’, and its annula 50,000 green cards would be eliminated.

What would replace the current immigration system?
A ‘point-based’ system on various ‘characteristics’:

  • Age (with the highest number of points for applicants aged 26 to 3o years old)
  • Level of formal education: 1) doctorate degree; 2) professional degree (master’s of business administration, doctor of jurisprudence, doctor of medicine); 3) master’s degree; 4) bachelor’s degree; 5) high-school diploma.
  • Mastery of the English language: tests would be 1) the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), as administered by a partnership between the British Council, IDP Education, and Cambridge English Language Assessment; 2) the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), as administered by the Educational Testing Service.
  • Salary of a job offer (as compared to U.S. median income, the higher the better).

How would the point-system work?
An applicant gets between zero and the maximum number of points for each characteristic, which are then added for a final score. Not all the categories are worth the same number of points. The maximum number of points for age is 10 points; for level of formal education, 13 points; for mastery of the English language, 12 points; for salary of a job offer, 13 points.

¹: Technically, there are 47 Democratic senators and 1 Independent ‘caucusing’ with them.


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