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In-Depth Analysis: The RAISE Act

A few weeks ago, President Trump endorsed the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE Act). The new bill, which was introduced by Senators Tom Cotton (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.), outlines a 10-year plan to cut current immigration levels by 50 percent. The following is a breakdown of the Act’s major components:

  • Elimination of the Diversity Visa Program. The RAISE Act will completely remove INA §203(c). It will eliminate up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.
  • The annual admission of refugees will be capped at 50,000. The RAISE Act will strike INA §§ 207(a) and 207(b), and it will add a new §207(b), which will outline the new regulation.
  • Major changes to the family-based immigration system. The RAISE Act will:
    • Change the definition of “child” at INA §101(b)(1) from unmarried person “under age 21” to an unmarried person “under age 18”;
    • Change the definition of “immediate relative” at INA §201(b)(2)(A)(i) to include only children and spouses of U.S. citizens (removes parents of adult U.S. citizens);
    • Create INA §201(c), which caps family-based admissions at 88,000 per year;
    • Amend INA §203(a) to recognize only spouse and minor children of LPRs as eligible for family-based sponsorship, outside of immediate relatives;
    • Create a new nonimmigrant category (W) at INA §101(a)(15)(W) for parents of U.S. citizen children who are at least 21 years of age. The nonimmigrant in W status is prohibited from working and from receiving public benefits. The nonimmigrant’s son or daughter will need to show that health insurance coverage has been arranged at no cost to the alien;
  • Replace the employment-based immigrant categories with immigration points system. The total number of points-based immigrants will be capped at 140,000 per year, including spouses and children. Applications will be submitted online and placed in the Eligible Applicant Pool. From there, each individual will be allotted points and sorted according to their total score. Applicants with equal points will be prioritized according to educational attainment. Applicants with equal points and equal educational attainment will then be ranked according to English language proficiency test scores. Applicants with equal points, equal educational attainment, and equal English language test scores will finally be ranked according to age. Every six months, USCIS will invite the highest ranked applicants to file a petition. Applicants stay in the Eligible Applicant Pool for 12 months, and if they are not invited to apply for a visa, they can reapply. Here is a breakdown of the points system:
    • Age: Age is determined as of the date on which the application for placement in the Eligible Applicant Pool is submitted.
      • 0-17: May not submit an application
      • 18-21: 6 points
      • 22-25: 8 points
      • 26-30: 10 points
      • 31-35: 8 points
      • 36-40: 6 points
      • 41-45: 4 points
      • 46-50: 2 points
      • 51+: 0 points
    • Education: Education points may only be accrued for the highest degree obtained.
      • U.S. or Foreign High School Degree: 1 point
      • Foreign Bachelor’s Degree: 5 points
      • U.S. Bachelor’s Degree: 6 points
      • Foreign STEM Master’s Degree: 7 points
      • U.S. STEM Master’s Degree: 8 points
      • Foreign Professional Degree or Doctoral STEM: 10 points
      • U.S. Professional Degree or Doctoral STEM: 13 points
    • English Language Proficiency: Points for English language proficiency are accrued based on the highest test ranking of the applicant as of the date the application for placement in the Eligible Applicant Pool is submitted.
      • 1st-5th Deciles: 0 points
      • 6th-7th Deciles: 6 points
      • 8th Decile: 10 points
      • 9th Decile: 11 points
      • 10th Decile: 12 points
    • In addition to the three categories listed above, points may also be awarded for extraordinary achievement, job offers, investment in and active management of a new commercial enterprise, and having a valid offer of admission under family preference categories.
  • Prerequisite for Naturalization. The RAISE Act will amend INA §318 to prohibit naturalization of an individual if the person who submitted the affidavit of support on his or her behalf failed to reimburse the federal government for all means-tested public benefits received by the individual during the five-year period immediately after the individual became an LPR.

As a reminder, the RAISE Act is not law. It is currently just a bill that still needs to pass in both the House and Senate. The legislation is expected to face heavy resistance from congressional Democrats and moderate Republicans alike. If passed, however, this will mark the biggest change to the U.S. immigration system in 50 years.

If you are interested in immigrating to the United States and have questions, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!