Bill To Enact Sweeping Changes To The U.S. Immigration System Proposed in Congress


By: Kenneth S. Levine

On February 13, 2017, Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue jointly introduced Senate Bill 354 (otherwise known as the “RAISE Act”). This legislation went largely unreported until August 2nd when the White House staged a press conference with both Senators to announce the Administration’s support of the bill.

The RAISE ACT seeks to effectively replace the United State’s current employment based immigration system with a “points based” system that is largely reflective of the immigration systems utilized in Canada and Australia. Under this new system foreign national applicants would be awarded “points” towards permanent residency based on factors such as age, English language proficiency, education, work experience, special skills, etc. Foreign nationals that had already reserved their place in the existing green card quota would be required to submit a new application under the points system.

The Act reduces the total amount of green cards issued by the U.S. government per year to 500,000, which amounts to a 50% reduction based on the current yearly green card quota of 1,000,000. Along with dramatically altering the employment based permanent residency system, which is primarily contingent upon an employment offer, the RAISE Act eliminates all family based green card categories except for spouses and children. The Act also eliminates the Diversity Lottery green card system and caps refugee admission to 50,000 per year.

One notable feature of this legislation is that the prestigious Aliens of Extraordinary Ability (EB-1) category would cease to exist. Only foreign nationals who have obtained a Nobel Prize (or other “comparable” award), Olympic Medals or a first place medal in an international competition would receive points towards permanent residency under the new system.

Based on the considerable bi-partisan criticism of the bill in the immediate aftermath of the White House’s August 2nd press conference, it appears that the RAISE Act has little chance of becoming enacted into law. FMG Immigration Attorneys will continue to keep our clients apprised of any new developments on this issue.

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Kenneth S. Levine of the law firm of Freeman, Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].



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