BREAKING NEWS

US announces new points-based green card system

The President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, announced a proposal that will include significant changes in the allocation of green cards, by dramatically reducing the number of family-based green cards and moving towards a points-based system that will reward education, skills and English language proficiency.
 
At the Rose Garden gathering with the senior administration officials and influential Hill Republicans, he outlined a plan to boost border security and tighten asylum procedures.
Trump’s new plan, details of which had been reported widely in the U.S. media before the announcement, will increase the number of green cards issued through skills route versus the family-based route. However, the overall number of green cards, just over 1.1 million in 2017, will remain the same.
 
At present, 12 per cent of those receiving green cards entered the U.S. based on skill-based visas (such as H1B), while nearly 66% are family-based green cards. Trump’s new proposal will increase skills-based green cards to 57 per cent. Points with regard to skills will be awarded to applicants based on their education, work experience, age (more points for younger workers), English language ability, etc.
 
The applicants will have to show that they can financially support themselves and will need to pass a civics exam. Trump also announced that there would be a new “Build America” visa – details of which were not provided at the gathering. His speech made references to foreign workers displacing low income Americans’ jobs and highly valuable graduates leaving America to start companies in their own countries because they could not get a visa in America.
 
People give green cards on humanitarian and diversity grounds will now only constitute 0 per cent of all green card recipients, according to a handout given to the press. Currently, the diversity lottery offers 50,000 green cards to under-represented groups each year. The proposals, if turned into law, will have significant impact on Indians who interact with the U.S. immigration system. In 2018, a majority (70%) of H1B visas, for skilled workers went to the Indians. 
 
The visas are eventually converted to green cards. It is not clear that if there is a switch to the points-based system would make the prospects of Indian skilled migrants wanting to settle in the U.S. easier, as bringing family members, specially elderly parents, may get more complicated. Trump said spouses and children will be given priority in the new system.
 
The second part of the proposal seeks to reduce illegal migration to the U.S. by building physical barriers in sections of southern border with Mexico. It will also make it harder for individuals to claim asylum (which is a right under U.S. and international law). The proposal seeks to bring Republicans together around the immigration debate that will be a focus in the 2020 Presidential elections. It is less certain that Democrats will support the bill. 

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