Trump Proposes Merit-Based Green Card System: Merit Over Familial Relationships

The Logical Indian Crew

May 18th, 2019 / 1:53 PM

The U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday at a Rose Garden gathering proposed a new system to allocate green cards where able individuals are prioritised over those who get a green card merely because they have familial relationships in the U.S. This new system is a “merit-based” system which allocates points considering factors like education, skills and English language proficiency.

This new model of meting out green cards does not affect the number of green cards being issued but only alters the percentage of green cards being issued on a particular basis. As of 2017, 1.1 million green cards are issued every year and this figure will remain the same. What significantly changes is, if this model officially becomes law, individuals who received a green card on the basis of skill will increase from 12% to 57%. In addition to education, work experience, age (more points for younger workers), English language ability etc. determining individual’s points, individuals will also have to show that they can financially support themselves and pass a civics exam too.

Trump, in the same Rose Garden meeting, also hinted at something which he called “Build America” visa but didn’t elaborate much. In his speech, he also spoke about how foreign workers displace low-income Americans’ jobs and how highly skilled/valuable Americans leave the country because they don’t manage to get a visa. The percentage of green cards meted out on humanitarian and diversity grounds will topple down to 10%, according to a handout given to the press after the Rose Garden event. Currently, 50,000 green cards are given out to under-represented groups each year.

Impact on Indians

Should this proposal become law, there will be a profound impact on Indians seeking a green card. In the fiscal year 2018, a staggering 70% of  H1B visas, for skilled workers, went to Indians. Many of these Indians eventually acquire a green card. 57,000 to 62,000 Indians acquired a green card between 2015 and 2017. Those Indians planning to settle down in the U.S. would reconsider, as bringing family members over, especially elderly parents, may get more complicated.

“If Trump’s plan became law, millions of U.S. citizens and permanent residents—including those who first arrived as H-1B workers—would no longer be able to live in America with their parents and children,” Doug Rand, who worked on immigration in the Obama White House and is now co-founder of Boundless Immigration, a firm that helps immigrants get green cards and U.S. citizenship, told The Hindu. “But this has no chance of becoming law—it’s just a cynical PR move that pays lip service to high-skill immigration even as the Trump administration is systematically dismantling high-skill immigration with every tool at its disposal,” Mr Rand added. The White House immigration plan is believed to be designed by Mr Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller, senior advisor to Mr Trump, who is known to be a right-wing immigration hardliner.

“The idea that for every immigrant they help, they hurt one, all of that is no good,”  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was quoted by the New York Times. “Don’t come up with a plan that Stephen Miller rubber stamps and say, ‘Now pass it.’ It’s not going to happen,” Mr Schumer was further quoted.

Also Read: With USA Looking To Tighten Visa Rules, What Lies Ahead For Spouses Of H-1B Holders?


Written by : Prithvi Raj (Intern)

Edited by : Bharat Nayak

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