This week has been crazy with some heated discussion in blogosphere and news with the announcement of Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy( RAISE) Act by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue. There is so much of info around that is vague and misleading many. We will summarize and talk about what it means to various work visa holders like H1B, L1.
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.
Summary of RAISE Act – Key changes to Immigrant Visas :
- Elimination of Diversity Visa Lottery program : Remove the Diversity visa lottery program that provides 50,000 Green Cards to citizens from countries that have low immigration rates to US.
- Reduce Green Cards to Refugees :Reduce the Green cards given to refugees to a maximum of 50,000 per year.
- Family Based Immigration Changes :
- Current immigration preferences for spouses and minor children of US residents remain intact, but immigrant visas to extended family members and adults are eliminated.
- Definition of minor changed from 21 years to 18 years for immigrant visa purposes.
- Parents of adult US Citizens ( over 21 years of age) get a visa, initially given for 5 years, for health care and treatment and then extended based on need and residence. Health insurance is mandatory for parents as part of this visa and need to submit proof. US Citizen’s son or daughter who sponsored the visa are responsible to support their parents. They will NOT get any benefits from US state.
- In process Immigrant visas : If you are in process and scheduled to get immigrant visa (green card) within one year from the day RAISE Act is enacted, you will get it, if it is later than one year, it is going to be invalid and you have to re-apply based on new process.
- Replace current employment based immigrations: The current employment based green card/immigration system will be replaced with a point based system like in Canada or Australia. Maximum of 140,000 Employment Based Green Cards ( same as now) for eligible applicants. This 140,000 also includes GCs count for spouses and children.
- Green Card Application Process with Points based System : New application process for Green Card/ immigrant visa is in place with the change to points based system. The applicants with maximum points are selected in order to fill the cap of 140,000. Applicants need a minimum of 30 points to submit the Green Card Application
- Applicants who are eligible have to apply with USCIS by paying $160 USD online to be part of the eligible pool. They are eligible for 12 months to be in pool and can reapply next year as needed.
- Tie-Breaking Factors : If there is a tie or 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, 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
- Invitation by USCIS every 6 months : USCIS will invite the highest ranking applicants from the eligible pool every 6 months to apply for green card. The candidate have to apply within 90 days after receiving the invitation. You will need to submit all documents related to the application with proofs/ attestations as needed by submitting application fee of $345.
- If more applications qualify in a year for Green card and it is over 140,000 cap, USCIS will delay their admission until first day of next fiscal year and reduce that exceeded numbers from next fiscal year.
- Only legal spouse and minor children of the primary applicant will be given Green card under point based system.
- Public Benefits : No public Benefits will be given for the new Green Card holders under the points based system for first 5 years.
- How does Point based Immigration System in US work : Applicants need a minimum of 30 points to submit green card application. The points are awarded for each of the sections for an individual based on their status and qualification. Below are the various aspects that will be looked into for awarding points
- Age : Points anywhere from 0 to 10 based on age
- Education : Points awarded anywhere from 1 to 13 based on education qualification
- English Language Proficiency : Points are awarded anywhere from 0 to 12 based on English language Proficiency System that will be used by USCIS either IELTS or TOEFL. Also, USICIS may recommend another test as needed.
- Extraordinary achievement : Points are awarded from 15 to 25 for extraordinary achievement like Nobel prize, Olympics, or similar.
- Job Offer : Points anywhere from 5 to 13 based on salary offered from 150% to over 300% of median income in applying state.
- Investment in commercial enterprise : Points anywhere either 6 or 12 based on investment in commercial enterprise either $1.35 million USD or $1.8 Million USD
- Family Preference : If you are about to get immigrant visa based on family, you may be eligible for upto 2 points.
- Spouse Related points Adjustment : There will be points adjustment based on your spouse, if you are married and considered
Read full details on points allocation in article Points Based Immigration USA Green Card
- Annual Reporting : Every year after the RAISE Act is enacted, secretary of homeland security should submit a report to congress on the immigrant visas issues for previous fiscal year based on points system with every detail by state, education, annual salaries, etc.
- Quadrennial Report : Every 4 years, Secretary of Homeland security shall review and consult with Dept of labor and other departments and provide recommendations for any changes to the point system as needed.
- When will all these be effective : All the above will be effective from first day of fiscal year on the date or after this act is passed. The fiscal year first day is October 1st for USCIS.
What is the current status of RAISE ACT ?
The status is that, it is not even introduced officially in Senate and we only see that its previous version is in House and was read twice and referred to Judiciary committee. So, it has to pass Senate, Pass House and then only it becomes law. Really a long way to go and with the current state, it is very unlikely that it will go through. There are many such H1B and Immigration Bills by Trump team with little progress. So, nothing to worry or panic folks !
What is the impact for H1B and L1 visa holders or Work Visa Holders ?
The RAISE Act Draft version does not really explicitly talk about H1B, L1 visa or any work visa holders. So, we do not know what the impact would be. For now, as per current process, anyone on H1B goes through the standard Employment Based immigration process…But, if the RAISE Act becomes a law, this will change the process for Green Cards for H1B holders and they will need to go through the points based system. The concept of priority date, wait times will be gone…Younger and more educated people with higher salaries get more points…so, it can have a potentially drastic impact, if it becomes law…but, too early to predict anything…for now, it is pure speculation. We should just wait for the next steps….It has to be passed as it is in Senate and house, which is very unlikely…
What is your view on this RAISE Act ? Is it bad for US ? Good ? What do you say ? Share your thoughts…
- Official Full Text of RAISE Act on Senate.Gov
- Official Summary by section – One pager of RAISE Act on Senate.Gov
- Gov Press Announcement of RAISE Act