Almost 200 pieces of immigration-related legislation have been introduced into Congress since January 2017. They range from legal relief for DACA recipients to legislation that would effectively end any type of entry into the country for employment purposes, including legal immigration. On August 2, 2017, Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA), with the endorsement of President Trump, proposed new legislation that would change the eligibility requirements for legal employment-based permanent resident status. The new bill, known as the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act (“RAISE Act”), would replace the current employment-based system for permanent resident status with a points-based system similar to the ones used by Australia and Canada.
Under the new bill, the DHS would not increase the number of green cards available based on employment sponsorship, keeping the cap at 140,000 per fiscal year. The new system would award points to applicants based on various factors such as age, education, English-language ability, high-paying job offers, and entrepreneurial initiative.
The bill also proposes to eliminate the Diversity Visa program and redefine “immediate relative” for the purpose of immigrant (“permanent”) sponsorship for LPR status. While immigrant visas for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens would continue to be available, immigrant visas for parents would be eliminated. The family preference categories would also be amended to include only spouses and children of U.S. permanent residents. This change would eliminate the sponsorship of siblings and adult children. The bill also proposes to reduce the age eligibility for minor children from 21 to 18.