Legislation for New Merit Based Immigration System Announced

On 2nd August, President Trump announced that he is backing a new legislation for an immigration reform (Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, or the RAISE Act) for foreign individuals who apply for legal permanent status, or green cards, through their employer.

This is going to be immensely beneficial for Indian students in America in the long term. The legislation backs a merit based system which gives preferences to highly skilled individuals for immigration. The application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to the U.S economy.

Remember that this is still a legislation and not a law, however given that the president himself backs this legislation and Republicans control both senate and house – this is likely to be great news all around.

Following are the key highlights and how this might help highly educated Indian students who currently are / will be employed in the USA.

  1. Today green cards are awarded essentially by queue, and a candidate with higher education degrees, skills and a well-paying job is treated the same way as a candidate with low skills. To make matters worse green cards are awarded by limited country based quotas, putting Indian candidates at a disadvantage due to the large number of applicants. Merit based system will end this.
  2. The change is meant to make the application process fairer and allow applicants to know what their chances are of being approved before applying. Candidates would be able go online, answer questions about their education and employment experience, and learn if their background would help fill a workplace shortage in the United States. Applicants would also receive a score to give them a concrete idea of their chances of obtaining a visa.
  3. Although this proposal will go through many changes and debates – this is a step in the right direction. Indian students who are employed in the US after they complete their education are highly skilled individuals who possess advanced degrees with impressive research & academic backgrounds, so they should be able to clear bar for the merit based systems based on their qualifications and work experience without difficulty. This system is similar to the current immigration systems adopted in Canada and Australia – which have proven to be far better in terms of making immigration fair and efficient.
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