The Proposal for Merit-Based Immigration to the USA

During his first address to the U.S. Congress in February 2017, President Donald Trump had emphasized on the need for a merit-based immigration system. The terrorist attack in New York City on October 31, 2017 has again given him a reason to require the expedient execution of a policy in this respect as the terrorist is confirmed to have entered the U.S. under the Diversity Immigrant Visa, also known as the ‘Green Card Lottery’, a lottery administered by the Department of State that annually makes available approximately 50,000 permanent resident visas, irrespective of the applicant’s qualifications and skills. 

The purpose of the merit-based immigration system is to ensure that immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy and society. The system proposes to admit immigrants to the U.S. on the basis of a specified set of factors, for which points would be allotted to applicants, such as their educational qualifications, skills, employment experience, language proficiency and age. Green cards would be awarded based on an assimilation of points derived from these factors, making it more likely for a person with higher points to be awarded a green card. Thus, the system would be extremely beneficial for sectors employing highly qualified professionals; however, it would also disrupt the labour market in sectors such as hospitality, health care and food services, which largely comprise of lower-skilled immigrant workers. 

The merit-based immigration system, if implemented, is expected to benefit highly-skilled Indian workers, especially those from the IT sector; however, it would negatively impact those who wish to bring their family members to the U.S. as the system also proposes the abolition of extended-family chain migrations, by limiting family-based Green Cards only to spouses and minor children. 

Isha Kalwant Singh, Legal Intern

(Keywords: Immigration, Merit, Lottery, Green Card, Economy)


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