The current U.S administration has continuously been opposed to the current immigration laws and regulations. It has imposed a “zero tolerance” approach towards illegal immigration and is seeking to impose stricter laws and requirements on those who want to immigrate to the U.S.
To prevent illegal immigration and make legal immigration more selective, the U.S is debating a Merit-Based Immigration Bill. In the style of many countries such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, the U.S also wants to implement a merit-based immigration approach. This would mean that anyone who applies for a visa would need to fulfill certain requirements and pass a threshold of points to get a merit-based visa.
This article will go through the details of the U.S immigration points system that might be implemented if approved by the authorities. It will summarize the 40-page bill that has been proposed and explain how a Merit-Based Green Card would work.
Green Card Calculator -
What is Merit-Based Immigration?
What Are the Requirements for the Merit-Based Immigration?
How Will the Merit-Based Immigration Points be Given?
Based on the requirements above, you can calculate how many points you would get and whether you qualify for a Merit-Based Green Card. This would serve as a U.S Green Card Points Calculator and the points are distributed as explained below.
AgeThe age requirement divides groups of people depending on their age and assigns points to them as below.
|0 to 17||Not allowed to apply|
|18 to 21||6 points|
|22 to 25||8 points|
|26 to 30||10 points|
|31 to 35||8 points|
|36 to 40||6 points|
|41 to 45||4 points|
|46 to 50||2 points|
The education points are distributed based on the highest educational degree which the applicant has, whether it is a foreign or a U.S degree.
|Highest Educational Degree||Points|
|U.S high school diploma or equivalent||1 point|
|Foreign Bachelor’s Degree||5 point|
|U.S Bachelor’s Degree||6 point|
|Foreign Master’s Degree in STEM||7 point|
|U.S Master’s Degree in STEM||8 point|
|Foreign Professional Degree or Doctorate Degree in STEM||10 point|
|U.S Professional Degree or Doctorate Degree in STEM||13 point|
English LanguageThe applicant must also prove that they are proficient in English and the better they score on the proficiency tests, the higher their decile ranking. The points are then distributed based on the decile ranking with higher deciles getting more points.
|English Language Rank in Deciles||Points|
|1st through 5th Deciles||0 points|
|6th and 7th Deciles||6 points|
|8th Decile||10 points|
|9th Decile||11 points|
|10th Decile||12 points|
Extraordinary AchievementsThe RAISE Act will also give extra points to those who have an extraordinary achievement. The achievements that fall into this category are only a Nobel Laureate or an Olympic Gold Medal winner. The points awarded are very high and those who have one of these achievements will pass the 30 points threshold much easier than those who do not.
|Nobel Laureate or comparable recognition in a field of scientific or social scientific study||25 points|
|Olympic medal or 1st place in an international sporting even in which the majority of the best athletes in an Olympic sport were represented in past 8 years before submitting the application||15 points|
Job OfferThose who have a valid job offer from a U.S employer will also get more points. If you do not have a job offer, then you will get 0 points, but if you do then the points depend on the compensation that you are getting. The compensation is based on the U.S median household income of the U.S state where you will be working as determined by the U.S Secretary of Labor.
|At least 150% of the median household income in the State in which the applicant will be employed and less than 200% of such median household income.||5 points|
|At least 200% of the median household income in the State in which the applicant will be employed and less than 300% of such median household income.||8 points|
|At least 300% of the median household income in the State in which the applicant will be employed.||13 points|
Investment and Management of a New Commercial EnterpriseThe amount of investment that will be made in the U.S economy by opening a new commercial enterprise and the time in which the investor/applicant will manage it will also give points towards a merit-based visa.
|Investing the equivalent of $1,350,000 in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S and maintain such investment for at least 3 years. Play an active role in the management of that commercial enterprise as the applicant’s primary occupation.||6 points|
|Investing the equivalent of $1,800,000 in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S and maintain such investment for at least 3 years. Play an active role in the management of that commercial enterprise as the applicant’s primary occupation.||12 points|
Approval of Family-Based VisaA person who was just approved for a Family Based Green Card the day before the RAISE Act is approved will also get some additional points. They will have to apply again but will get 2 points if:
Summing the PointsYou must go through all of the criteria and find out how many points you have in each. Then you can continue to sum all the points and see whether you have 30 or more points. If you have less than 30, then you should not apply because your application will not be reviewed. If you have more than 30 points, then you must follow the application procedures below.
How to Apply For the Merit-Based Visa?If the RAISE Act is approved and the U.S starts giving merit-based visas instead of Diversity Visas, then there will be a different application process. The immigration authority will still be the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), but the procedure will be as follows.
Step 1: Submit an online applicationIf you have gone through the requirements for the merit-based visa and based on the criteria, you have 30 or more points then you are eligible to apply. You will have to submit an online application form to USCIS.
Step 2: USCIS will rank applicationsUSCIS will then go through the applications to rank them according to the points. Applications that have less than 30 points in the eligibility requirements will not be considered. However, there might be times when there are applicants with equal points and the RAISE Act specifies how to break the ties, as follows:
Educational degreesIf applicants have the same points then the ranking will be made on educational degrees first. The highest rank will be a doctorate degree and after it will be a professional degree, master’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and high school diploma. U.S degrees will also be ranked higher than foreign ones.
English ProficiencyIf two applicants have the same points and the same educational degrees, then they will be ranked according to their English proficiency. The person with a higher proficiency will be ranked higher than the one with a lower proficiency.
AgeTwo applicants with the same points, same educational degrees and the same English proficiency will then be ranked according to age. The applicant who is closer to their 25th birthday will be ranked higher than a person who might be younger or older.
Step 3: USCIS will send visa invitationsAfter ranking the applicants in the eligibility pool, USCIS will then send invitations to the highest ranked applicants every 6 months. When you submit your application, you will stay in the applicant pool for 12 months, so you have two chances that USCIS will invite you for the visa.
Step 4: USCIS will process and announce merit-based visa winnersAfter processing the petitions, USCIS will then announce those who got the merit-based visa and the U.S Embassies in the home countries of the winners will issue them. In the meantime, while USCIS processes the petitions, the applicants will be screened for their criminal background and their medical appointments as per the usual requirements for U.S immigrant visas.
Can I Bring my Dependents With a Merit-Based Visa?As the main applicant, you are allowed to also bring your spouse and minor children to the U.S. The minor child will automatically get the merit-based visa as you, however, your spouse must also be part of the application and is evaluated based on the points system.
Can I get a U.S Citizenship With a Merit-Based Visa?As with all U.S immigrant visas after 5 years of maintaining it, you will be eligible to apply for a U.S citizenship. The same applies to the merit-based visa. You will have to be eligible and fulfill the requirements to become a U.S citizen and if approved, you will get the U.S passport.
When Will the Points-Based System be Implemented in the U.S?The RAISE Act is still a proposed bill which will be analyzed by the U.S government authorities. If approved, it will go into power on the first day of the fiscal year which for the U.S is October 1st of each year. Therefore, the RAISE Act and the points-based visas could start being implemented as soon as October 2018.