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Trump’s Merit Based Immigration in US [2020] – H1B, F1, L1?

Trump made an announcement indicating merit based immigration bill in an interview with Telemundo on Jul 11, 2020. Today, at Whitehouse press briefing, Trump again talked about the Merit based immigration bill. This article will cover the details on the same and all the latest news updates on Trump’s plan for merit-based immigration.

As unemployment numbers in US are at all-time high, Trump has banned entry for H1B, L1 visa holders until December 2020 and has been advocating merit based immigration. He also banned entry of New GC Holders (Immigrant Visa)  into US. Recently, Trump administration also lost DACA case in Supreme court. All of these re-ignited the conversation of merit-based immigration plans by Trump to stop low skilled workers from entering US.  Let’s look at the background first.

Background – Trump Merit based Green Cards Plans 2019, 2017

This is not the first time that Trump is announcing such thing. In May 2019, Trump announced plans for merit based green cards. No specifics were given in that announcement on what the merit-based immigration or green cards option would look like.  The announcement back then was very high-level and covered topics like stopping illegal immigration, fixing asylum, merit based green cards, point based system for green cards, remove diversity lottery, overhaul the green card categories, prioritize higher wage workers, etc. You can read below summary articles and watch video for more info.  

 Also, previously in 2017, they had similar plans with a points-based system for getting Green Cards and it was called RAISE Act (Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy). It did not go anywhere and essentially was dead. Read below articles for background on RAISE Act.

As US economy is not doing well and unemployment is high, this new merit-based immigration plan by Trump is to revive the old merit based immigration plans by them as they feel it is good timing to introduce changes and reform immigration system.   

You may watch below YouTube Video too that has all info

Current status on the Merit based immigration Bill or Act by Trump ?

In short, there are no official details or specifics announced yet on the merit based immigration. Only the couple of announcements by Trump. First is in Telemundo interview and his comments saying that he will sign immigration bill as Executive order with DACA as part of it.  Second one is Trump mentioned that the plans to sign an Executive Order to change the immigration laws to merit based and also take care of DACA in Press briefing today at Whitehouse.

Technically, he does not have enough legal authority to change Immigration System to merit based directly by signing an Executive Order. It has to go through Congress as Bill to become law with required steps.  It will be interesting to see, how it shapes up with Executive Order. As we all know, Trump is notorious to create hype and then tone down the actual rules. It could be an immigration bill in Congress too, we do not know yet. If you see anyone saying anything now, those are all speculations. As a base line, you can look at the above articles from 2019 and 2017 to get an idea of what they planned in past. We will keep everyone posted.

Merit Based Immigration Impact for H1B, F1 or L1 Visas?

As of today, there are no specific details given by Trump Administration on how it will tie back or impact the current work visa programs like H1B or L1 visa. Also, there are no details like if F1 holders with degrees from US will have any priority. In the past plan from 2017, there were some points based on the degree, age and English language proficiency. But, we do not have any such details. So, for now, there is nothing.

Below are actual latest updates with timelines and official links for you to review. We will update as we have more info.

Latest News on Merit Based Immigration 2020

  • Jul 28th, 2020 : Trump today again in his press briefing briefly said they are planning for a Merit Based Immigration system and a path for citizenship for DACA holders. No additional details were revealed today. You can check PressBriefing Video
  • Jul 14th, 2020 : Trump announced in his white house press briefing that he plans to sign a big merit based immigration bill and it will also have path for DACA holders to get citizenship. Watch WhiteHouse Briefing ( watch from 37min 26) and also at the end.  
  • Jul 11th, 2020 : Trump Interview with Telemundo, where he talks about DACA and merit based immigration bill to be signed as Executive order in four weeks. Watch Telemundo Interview Trump ( watch from 50 seconds)

What do you think of the plans by Trump Administration for Merit based immigration ? Your thoughts ? Share in comments below.


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  1. I’d like to know how a Masters in Computer Science from MIT would compare to a MBA from Virginia International University on the merit scale? Would the fact that you worked hard and landed in a top tier university matter at all?

    • MN,
      Well, firstly, you cannot compare apples to oranges. One is MS, other is MBA. Each are different. I would suggest, your passion is what matters to pick the degree, then comes the school. Always for MBA, brand can make an impact for network.

    • Unfortunately the current immigration system does not give priority to students who attended top tier universities like MIT, Harvard, Stanford etc. It is almost 5-10 times more difficult to complete the course in these universities when compared to lower grade universities. I definitely think that there is a strong need to address this in the newer proposal. Merit and hard work should be respected, irrespective of other factors.

      • Then comes the question what are those prestigious colleges. You will say top 50 colleges. How 51st college is bad compared to 50th college. What if the rankings change after a decade? There is end to these over optimization. Also these ranking based system will make institutes to become greedy and hence costly.

        • I am assuming the rankings you are referring to are the ones put out by the likes of US News etc. These carry very little legitimacy in academia and are barely considered in policy decisions related higher education.
          From a H1B perspective what is already considered as eligible Higher Education Institutions is this; that it’s accredited by national body, authorized by State; has program requirements approved by Secretary of Education, deemed eligible by DOE to grant I/20; is a Public or Non-profit University and provides 80/90% of its instruction on site.
          Sometimes an institution might meet a few of the above criteria but not all (like it can be a for-profit institution that’s eligible to grant I20s). But it’s necessary that all criteria is met. This by itself when clearly implemented should eliminate the likes of Stratford, Stafford etc.

          Second, from a merit perspective, one shouldn’t consider ranking but the classification of higher education institution.

          For example, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, classifies Higher Education Institutions in the following manner. All the top reputable Universities fall in at least one of the categories below.

          Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity (R1) (130)
          Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity (R2) (132)
          Doctoral/Professional Universities (R3)

          I strongly believe that from a merit perspective, degrees from institutions in these categories should be given higher priority/points.

  2. If it merit based then it will follow the raise act they had drafted in senate 2 years ago. it is going to be a point based system with minimum points. someone came up with a calculator in 30togc.com i believe DACA and approved i140 will get certain points. let see what happens next week.


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