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Points based Immigration USA Green Card – Full Details- RAISE Act 2017

Previously we have looked at high level details of points based immigration system in US for Green Cards in our article Summary of RAISE Act by Trump Administration. This article will focus on the points allocation part for the immigrant visa/ Green Card for requirements.

Update : Trump has announced in May 2019, Merit based Green Card and New Immigration System , which is pretty similar to below, but with funding for wall and some minor changes.

Points Based Immigration System in USA for Green Card :

As an applicant you will need a minimum of 30 points to submit green card application. The points are accrued for each of the sections for an individual based on their status and qualification. Below are the various sections that will be looked into for awarding points.

  • Age
  • Education
  • English Language Proficiency
  • Extraordinary achievement.
  • Job Offer
  • Investment in commercial enterprise
  • Spouse Related points Adjustment

Let’s look at each of the sections on points based immigration system in US for immigrant visa.

Points Allocation Section

Requirement for Points

Points Allocation

AgeAnyone over 18 years of age can apply
Age 0 to 17Not eligible
Age 18 through 216 Points
Age 22 through 258 Points
Age 26 through 3010 points
Age 31 through 358 points
Age 36 through 406 points
Age 41 through 454 points
Age 46 through 502 points
Age 51 and olderZero Points
EducationPoints are only allocated for the highest degree obtained by applicant as of the date of the application
US or Foreign High School Degree.  Usually diploma in foreign countries1 point
Foreign Bachelors Degree equivalent of US bachelors degree5 points
US Bachelors Degree6 points
Foreign Masters Degree in STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics )7 Points
US Masters Degree in STEM8 Points
Foreign Professional Degree ( MBA, MD, JD –  Doctorate in Law) or PhD in STEM areas10 Points
US Professional Degree ( MBA, MD or JD – Doctorate in Law) or PhD in STEM areas13 points
USCIS will work with Secretary of Education and maintain a list of foreign education institutions that met the accreditation standard that are recognized by major US accrediting agencies
English Language ProficiencyTOEL or IELTS tests scores based on deciles concept. Total test scores will be divided into 10 parts, each part called a decile
1st through 5th decileZero
6th and 7th decile6 points
8th decile10 points
9th decile11 points
10th decile12 points
Extraordinary achievementNobel Laureate or comparable recognition in scientific or social scientific study25 points
Olympic Medal  ( 8 years since the medal was awarded) or major international event where Olympic athletes were present15 points
Job OfferPoints for highly compensated employment offers. Also, the
Annual salary offered by prospective employer is at least 150 percent of median household income in the state, where job is offered,  and less than 200 percent5 points
Annual Salary offered by prospective employer is at least 200 percent of median household income in that state, where job is offered and less than 300 percent8 points
Annual Salary offered by prospective employer is at least 300 percent of median household income in that state, where job is offered13 points
Investment in commercial enterprise and active managementAn applicant can get points, if they have invested in a commercial enterprise and are active in management
Investment of $1,350,000 ( 1.35 million USD) and maintain the investment for 3 years and play an active role as applicant’s primary occupation.6 points
Investment of $1,800,000 ( 1.8million USD) and maintain the investment for 3 years and play an active role as applicant’s primary occupation.12 points
The immigrant visa will be cancelled if the applicant fails to company the requirements of investment above for excess of 1 year.
Family Preference Category OffersIf anyone has valid offer to enter US under family preference category immigrant visa on the day before this RAISE Act was enacted and they fall under below two

1.     They are scheduled to receive immigrant visa under this preference category

2.     The applicant did not get the green card within 1 year from the day of enactment of this act

2 points
Spouse Related points adjustmentIf your spouse is joining you as well, then your spouse’s points are considered based on the scenario.
If spouse’s points are same or higher than the primary applicants, then no adjustment
If spouse’s points are lower than the applicant, then applicant points will be adjusted as below

Total points = Applicants Points * 0.70 + Spouse’s points * 0.30

Tie-Breaking Factors : If there is a tie/ same points, the below order of will be followed for tie-break ( highest to lowest )

  • By Degree :
    • PhD / Doctorate Degree holders (US or foreign – US ranked higher )
    • Professional Degree – MBA, MD, Doctorate in Law (US or foreign – US ranked higher )
    • Master’s Degree(US or foreign – US ranked higher )
    • Bachelors Degree(US or foreign – US ranked higher )
    • Diploma (US or foreign – US ranked higher )
  • By English Language Proficiency : If there is a tie with points by degree, then English language test ranking scores will be used for priority
  • By close to 25 Years of Age : If there is still a tie with above two, then the person with closer to 25th birthday will be chosen

The above points system is based on the draft text of the rule  Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy( RAISE) Act by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue.  The above points allocation may change over period of time. We will try to keep it updated.

What do you think of the points based immigration system ? Your thoughts ?

Reference : Official Full Text of RAISE Act on Senate.Gov


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  1. I am in USA for last 9 years. I am working as a software Engineer for last 5 years(on H1b) and before that I did MS(computer science) on F1 visa. I already have an approved I140.

    When I came I to USA 9 years ago I was 24 years few months old. When my profile will be evaluated for points then how much point I will be given for “AGE”? Will it based on my age on that day when profile will be evalauted or I will get points for my age when I entered USA first.

  2. I did my Masters in Computer Science (2012) graduated and 5 years exp as Software Engineer in the USA…Currently, I am in India working as a software engineer at MNC company & my spouse has a Masters degree in IT from Australia

    Here are a few queries:

    1) Can I apply for USA green card(merit based) from INDIA? if I am qualified!!!

    2) Me & my spouse can apply together ?

    • You need an employer to apply on your behalf, you cannot apply on your own. This is based on future employment and a very long process…

  3. Great news for highly educated people, that have been sharing knowledge and experience, working and paying taxes, here in US, for years.

  4. Comments ? So now humans become numbers? This points system is an insult to the human race and whoever made it this way is a total ignorant about it. Not to mention that no ones of the americans who support trump policy on immigration would ever get enouth points to become residents if they would have to

  5. Hello,
    Its very confusing about english proficiency. If a guy has done PhD+master, which is about 8 years schooling about a decade , from US university, does he/she should also take TOEFL exam again? it very confusing

  6. Hi, for the GC points based, will IELTS be considered for the English Language Proficiency? I see it is given in this page but as far I know it is always TOEFL in this country.. Can any one please confirm?

    Thank you, Ram..

  7. seems to be worried through only indians rather then other groups, thinks like USA Green Card is there pocket property. Why you people have more panic and less joy . Ultimately die there for nothing, its hell rather then heaven.

  8. This is as good as eliminating the immigration system and it will be definitely useful for Indians .
    By the way its very hard to reach 30 points .
    They ignored completely experienced people and may required some-other evaluations as well to grab few more points addition to current points .

    1.Required Work Experience evaluation since it has dependency on age factor .
    2.Required Technology / SME domain expert evaluation .
    3.Required country legally status evaluation .

  9. So, does scoring > 30 get you in the pool of applicants or does it actually qualify you to get the green card? If it only gets you in the pool, is there some sort of ranking done each month and there is a variable cut-off for all those who qualify to get the green card that month?

  10. Good if this is passed. Will ensure that top-notch professionals get preference. Too many bodyshopping employees with inflated resumes and deflated salaries here.

    • Well, I am planning to do master and confused now. Should I go for MS in STEM or regular non-STEM MBA ? I know this bill has not been passed yet but if this gets green signal sooner or later, I want to earn highest possible points. Which Master should I go for as immigration is priority for us ?

      • Yedaa,
        You should be choosing your career based on immigration benefit. Think what you are passionate about and then do the same. What if the rules change completely tomorrow that it goes for PhD or MBA ? So, you cannot predict the future, do what you like and passionate about…

  11. This is as good as eliminating the immigration system from US.
    Its highly unlikely to pass it from senate. Is there any single act that has been passed under this government?

  12. This is horrendous. I don’t even know many natural born Americans who would have sufficient points to get a green card.
    The ageism and elitism built into this is disturbing.

  13. I am surprised they are not considering work experience at all. If the bill were to pass in its current form most of the people waiting in queue will be going back even if they score more than 30 due to below reasons

    – this bill will open the process to the world since it will not be employer based. We know there are a number of countries where it is easy to get a PhD. Going by that, a fresh 27 year PhD grad will get a green card easily, even if he doesn’t have US job offer.

    – scoring 30 points just gets you in the pool, and most of us who are able to score more than 30 will have somewhere between 30- 37 points. For reason stated in first point you will perhaps be at the end of the pool so good luck getting an invitation.

    It is very irresponsible for the govt to ask ppl waiting in queue for years to reapply and then give preference to age over experience,esp given that these ppl have paid tax to this country for years.

    • What sort of work experience can you expect from a 25 year old? Their ideal candidate is someone who is highly educated and is about to start or has just started earning handful.

  14. Great news for people who deserve to be given preference.. Lottery system is the worst way to bring talent from abroad..
    Bodyshopper companies and 65K-80K people are going to have a hard time..

  15. If this bill is passed, it will be bad news for all average desis who have come here on non-immigrant visas and have spouse on dependent visa who is not working.
    Here is the calculation for most of the desis who are here considering a best case scenario:
    Primary applicant:
    Age: 8 (if you are 28/29, you should still put yourself in 31-35 bracket considering the time needed to get it passed and be in effect) +
    Education: 5 (most have done bachelor’s in India) +
    English: 11 (most will easily score this in TOEFL test with some preparation) +
    Job: 5 (most will fall in this bracket) +
    Total: 29

    There might be few points added/removed based on each subject, case by case basis. But the most one will be able to get is around 32/33.

    Now if you add a dependent spouse who is not working, you can do the calculation:
    Total points = Applicants Points * 0.70 + Spouse’s points * 0.30

    and you will find that the total will never be above 30.

    Hence this bill will be bad news for most desis waiting in the backlog because the point system will be the only system used for giving out immigrant visas once it becomes a law.

    But the good news is that it is extremely unlikely to be passed in the current form. All dems will oppose it and already there are a few republicans opposed to it.

      • This may not pass in the senate now, but Trump/Republicans are well aware of that. They intend to use the Dem and few Republican opposition to this bill as a campaign issue during the 2018 and 2020 elections, knowing duly well that most of the US population actually support a merit based immigration. In fact, Trump won the presidency mainly based on immigration concerns (legal and illegal).

        This is mainly a campaign tactic by Trump : nothing else.

    • True.. it might not be great for average desis, but would still be beneficial to all desis as this bill does not talk about the illogical country limit which kills all desis presently. Indeed, it will be very helpful for people who have invested $ in US universities and have been making decent salaries. I am surprised the bill doesn’t talk about how long an applicant has been in the country legally.

      I believe if at all this bill sees the light, it will be beneficial to all desis, more to some than others.


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