Up & Up: The Basics About the RAISE Act

The RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) Act is a immigration bill introduced in the Senate this year. The goal of the bill is reducing the level of immigration to the U.S. while increasing the percentage of new immigrants who qualify for high-status jobs.

Reduced Family-Based Immigration

If it becomes law, the RAISE Act would phase out family-sponsored preference categories for adult children and siblings of U.S. citizens. This would dramatically reduce family-based immigration. Every year, about two-thirds of granted green cards go to immigrants with family ties to lawful permanent residents and citizens. The RAISE Act would reduce family-based immigration, but permanent residents and citizens could still sponsor minor children and spouses. Elderly parents of citizens could enter the U.S. under renewable, long-term nonimmigrant visas as long as the citizen purchases their health insurance.

Points-Based Immigration System

The Act would also replace the existing employment-based immigration system with a more streamlined points system. This system would prioritize immigrants with high-paying job offers in the U.S. and valuable skills. English speakers would also be prioritorized.

The points system would consider factors like age, future salary, and education level, similar to systems already used in Australia and Canada.

These changes would try to reduce the number of legal immigrants coming to the U.S. by 50% over the next decade. The number of green cards granted each year would be capped to just 500,000 people. Applicants would need at least 30 points based the following:

  • Achievements: 25 points for a Nobel prize, 15 points for an Olympic medal
  • Age: Those over 50 would receive no points but younger people can receive 2-10 points
  • Education: 13 points for a US doctorate, 1 point for a foreign or US high school diploma
  • English ability based on a test
  • Future salary: 13 points for a job offer paying 300% of the median for the destination state
  • Investments: 12 points for a $1.8 million investment in a U.S. business


Scrapped Diversity Visa Program

If the RAISE Act becomes law, the diversity visa program that started more than 20 years ago would be ended. This lottery program offers a way to get a green card without family ties or employment prospects. The lottery grants 50,000 green cards each year to those who are from a country with low admissions over the last 5 years, have a job, and have finished high school.

The RAISE Act would end this program completely.

RAISE Act Faces Challenges from Democrats and Republicans

The Act faces many challenges to get passed. It would need a filibuster-proof Senate majority, which would be difficult to achieve. Democrats in blue states are opposed to the bill largely out of loyalty to naturalized citizens. While the Act is supported by the Trump Administration, Republicans may not support the bill as low-wage workers will be skeptical that the new immigration system will do anything for the tourism and agriculture sectors that play a role in many GOP states.

Despite these challenges, immigration reform of some type may be coming soon. Also, the U.S. had a merit-based immigration system until 1952 and there is growing support for a similar system. Finally, if you are concerned about how this legislation could affect you, a Boston immigration lawyer can help.

Contact Law Offices Trupt N Patel & Associates for a consultation with an immigration attorney to explore your options.

Law Offices of Trupti N Patel & Associates
One Boston Place, 201 Washington Street #2600, Boston, MA 02108