TRUMP-BACKED BILL TO ABOLISH FAMILY-BASED VISAS, REPLACED BY POINTS-SYSTEM MIGRATION

Waiting for the right time to file that petition for a family member?  The time has come…now, before a bill proposed by Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia becomes law.

Senate bill S.354- ‘‘Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Employment Act’’ or RAISE, proposes to eliminate both the Employment-sponsored and Family-based categories except for the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and green card holders.

In its place, a points-based migration (combining the features of the Australian and Canadian selection system) is proposed.  The main criteria are the applicant’s age, level of education and English proficiency.

In case of tie, the first criteria to determine selection is the one with the higher level of education and proficiency in English.

As of November 2016, the State Department shows a worldwide total of 4,455,274 immigrant visa applicants in the combined Family and Employment-based categories. Of this number, 387,323 are from the Philippines.

The spouse and children of U.S. citizens are not covered by the annual quota, but the same family members of lawful permanent residents are.

Even the immigrant visa category for parents of U.S. citizens face removal under RAISE. In its place parents may apply for a nonimmigrant, temporary visitor “W” visa for a maximum period of 10 years.  The initial “W”: petition may be requested for five years and another 5-year extension or renewal. Canada has the SuperVisa for parents and grandparents of Canadian permanent residents and citizens.  The ability to get a SuperVisa is determined by the income of the sponsoring son/grandson or daughter/granddaughter.

Immigrant Visa Waiting List, November 2016

Category

Worldwide

Philippines

F1-Over 21 unmarried sons/daughters of USCs

322,788

19,863

F2B – Over 21 sons/ daughters of green card holders (LPRs)

450,755

57,440

F3-Married sons and daughgters of USCs

825,991

135,200

F4 – Adult brothers and sisters of USCs

2,459,274

137,105

EB1

3,801

0

EB2

14,370

400

EB3

55,521

23,923

Other Workers

8,804

745

EB4 Special Immigrants

354

0

EB5 Immigrant Investors

24,62910

It is worth noting that the Philippines does not have any qualified or willilng applicants who have Extraordinary Talents in the Arts, Business, Education, Athletics, Outstanding Researchers or Executives/Managers of Multinational companies or in the case of EB5 applicants with at least $500,000 to $1,000,000 to invest in the U.S.  In the mid-tier, Employment-based Third Preference Category and Other Workers, the Philippines is on top of the list.  This reflects the fact that professionals and skilled workers mindful of the lack of opportunities or career progression in the Philippines go to countries like the United States where their talent, skills and dedication are amply and justly rewarded.

Highlights of RAISE

The number would be subject to further reduction because the new cap of 88,000 would be reduced by the number of visas issued to those paroled into the United States as well as those who overstayed – were not able to depart the U.S. within 365 days of the bill’s enactment or immigrant visa applicants not able to apply for adjustment of status in the U.S. as well as those who were not able to get their visas within one year of the bill becoming law.

Points-based Migration

Immigrant visas based on employment will be replaced by a Points-based system, primarily determined by the applicant’s age, education and English proficiency. To be eligible, an applicant must have a valid job offer which would have to prove that no Americans would be deprived of the job being offered. This is akin to the current labor certification and Canada’s Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Applicants would have to submit their profile (similar to Canada’s Express Entry and Australia’s SkillSelect). The candidate profile will stay in the pool for one year.  There will be two draws (6-month intervals) within a year.

In case of a tie, the applicant with the higher education or qualification would be selected. Second, there will be a ranking on the applicants’ English proficiency.  As the bill is written the two English language exams accepted are the Internaitonal English Language Testing Service (IELTS) and the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Points for Age

Criteria

Points Assigned

Age

0 to 17

0

18 to 21

6

22 to 25

8

26 to 30

10

31 to 35

8

36 to 40

6

41 to 45

4

46 to 50

2

51 and over

0

Education Level

High school / secondary

1

Foreign Bachelor’s degree

5

U.S. Bachelor’s degree

6

Foreign STEM Masters

7

U.S. STEM Mastersq

8

Foreign PhD / Doctorate

10

U.S. PhD / Doctorate

13

English Proficiency

Level 1 to 5

0

Level 6 to 7

6

Level 8

10

Level 9

11

Level 10

12

Extraordinary Achievement

Nobel price or equivalent

25

Olympic medal or 1st place in an international sporting competition

15

Job Offer (based on Median Household Income)

150 to 199 over

5

200 to 299 over

8

300 and above

13

Investment – Active Management in a Commercial Enterprise

$1,350,000 value

6

$1,800,000

12

Family-relationship bonus points

Approved petition

2

Spouse’s age, education and English proficiency scores

Could be higher or equivalent depending on score

OPTIONS BEFORE AND AFTER THE BILL BECOMES LAW

Since the selection system used the Canada and Australia models, you may want to check your eligibility with Canada's Express Entry as well as Australia's SkillSelect systems. At any rate, it is a wise move to start improving your English language proficiency or take up that next academic level.  Finally, if you have to get married, your spouse's age, academic qualificaitons and English proficiency would give you additional points.

If the desired destination is really the United States where your brother or U.S. citizen parent live, then instead of filing a Family-based petition for you, it would be better for them to scout for potential employers in the United States. Whether the Points-based migration bill becomes law or not, a valid job offer that passed muster of the U.S. Labor Department will get you a front seat in the immigrant visa waiting room.

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About the Author

Crispin Aranda

Crispin Aranda

Crispin R. Aranda is an established International Visa Conselor and Immigrant Advocate. He is the president of IVC and is in several migration radio programs.


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