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Immigration Law Blog

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Breaking News: Proposed RAISE Act Will Alienate, Not Attract Global Talent

By Roujin Mozaffarimehr

On August 2nd, Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) introduced the RAISE Act, a bill supported by the Trump administration that, in part, looks to replace our current employment-based immigration system with a “merit-based” points system that purports to attract the best and the brightest global talent.

We have taken a closer look at the points system in the bill and put it to the test, to see if the best and the brightest would really be identified by the system. We compared 2 hypothetical Candidates to each other and evaluated each of them with the proposed point system.

Candidate #1

Age: 39

6 points

Degree: US PhD in STEM field

13 points

English Proficiency: 7th Decile

6 points

Annual Salary: At least 150% and less than 200% of average median household in California

5 points

Total:

30 points

 

Candidate #2

Age: 27

10 points

Degree: foreign Master’s in STEM field

7 points

English Proficiency: 9th Decile

11 points

Annual Salary: At least 150% and less than 200% of average median household in California

5 points

Total:

33 points

 

In this scenario, Candidate 2 would beat out Candidate 1 for entry in the US, despite Candidate 1 being more educated. How is this possible?

The proposed points system treats youth and English as king. And thus, even an educated and experienced Candidate loses if his or her English is weak. By overly weighting English and youth, we potentially would cut off a brilliant scientist, who spent one too many years in pursuit of academic excellence through the course of a PhD.

This is a discriminatory system: a system that discriminates on age and English proficiency. Some of the best and brightest talent that have come to the United States do not have a 10th Decile English proficiency level; nor are they between the ages of 26-31. Our current system allows us to identify workers on education and work experience, as well as extraordinary ability. Candidate 1 would potentially qualify as an alien of extraordinary ability in our current system. In the proposed system, the Candidate’s high skill level and credentials are shadowed by ageism and a lack of English proficiency. We would be burying global talent under a sea of age and language discrimination, instead of attracting the best and the brightest. 

Below is a general break down of the point system:

Age

  • Under 18: cannot apply
  • 18-21: 6 points
  • 22-25: 8 points
  • 26-30: 10 points
  • 31-35: 8 points
  • 36-40: 6 points
  • 41-45: 4 points
  • 46-50: 2 points
  • Over 50: 0 points

Degree

  • Less than high school diploma: 0 points
  • High school diploma or foreign equivalent: 1 point
  • Foreign bachelor's: 5 points
  • U.S. bachelor's: 6 points
  • Foreign master's in STEM field: 7 points
  • U.S. master’s in STEM field: 8 points
  • Foreign professional degree or doctorate in STEM field: 10 points
  • U.S. professional degree or doctorate in STEM field: 13 points

English Proficiency

  • Under 6th decile: 0 points
  • 6th and 7th decile: 6 points
  • 8th decile: 10 points
  • 9th decile: 11 points
  • 10th decile: 12 points

Annual Salary

  • At least 150% and less than 200% of median household income in state applicant will be employed: 5 points
  • At least 200% and less than 300% of median household income in state applicant will be employed: 8 points
  • At least 300% of median household income in state applicant will be employed: 13 points

Other

  • Nobel Prize or comparable recognition: 25 points
  • Olympic medal in the past 8 years: 15 points
  • Plan to invest with foreign currency worth less than $1.35 million for a new commercial enterprise: 0 points
  • Plant to invest with foreign currency worth between $1.35 million and $1.8 million for a new commercial enterprise: 6 points
  • Plan to invest with foreign currency worth at least $1.8 million for a new commercial enterprise: 12 points

 

 

Notes

As summarized by the Senators in their section-by-section summary:

  • Applicants earn points based on education, English-language ability, high-paying job offers, age, record of extraordinary achievement, and entrepreneurial initiative.
  • Potential immigrants who were awaiting entry under family preference categories eliminated by the RAISE Act but who do not qualify under the grandfather provision in Section 4 are allotted points if they apply through the points system.
  • Applicants must reach a 30-point threshold to eligible for an employment-based visa.
  • Eligible applicants enter a pool of potential immigrants from which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services twice a year invites the highest scorers to file full applications and undergo security vetting.
  • Immigrant households arriving through the points system are not eligible for federal means tested benefits for a period of 5 years.

 





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