The RAISE Act (Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act) would replace the current immigration focus on family unity to a points based system that would give preference to those who could potentially contribute more to the country.
It would also affect other aspects of the current immigration system such as limiting the number of refugees allowed into the country to 50,000 each year as well as eliminating the Diversity Visa for immigrants from countries with lower emigration rates to the United States.
What are the Current Preference Categories for Immigration to the U.S.?
The current system is designed to allow families to reunite in the U.S. after individual family members are granted legal status. When an immigrant receives permanent resident status, he or she can then sponsor their spouse, minor children, and parents as immediate relatives, which provides an immediate visa number upon approval of the application. If the sponsor has become a U.S. citizen, the process is given preference over petitions of sponsors who are simply legal residents.
Both U.S. citizens and permanent residents can also sponsor their adult children and siblings, along with their families, but the process is likely to take over a decade because of the restrictions on the number of visas for non-immediate relatives each year.
How Does the RAISE Act Affect Family-Based Immigration?
Family-based immigration would be limited only to spouses and minor children under 21 years of age. Parents are no longer included as immediate relatives, under the assumption that they are less likely to assimilate, speak English, or contribute valuable skills to the country. However, they would be granted renewable visitor's visas so they can come to the U.S. for family needs but cannot achieve legal status and receive government benefits such as Social Security and Medicare.
What are the Criteria for the Points-Based System of the RAISE Act?
Prospective immigrants would need to accumulate at least 30 points under this system, in categories that include specific offers of employment, education, English proficiency, and those wishing to start a business in the U.S. The number of immigrants under these criteria would be limited to 140,000 per year.
What Happens to Prospective Immigrants Whose Petitions Are Currently Being Processed?
Any applicant whose entry to the United States is scheduled within one year of the actual enact of the act will still be allowed into the United States as a permanent resident. Everyone else will be excluded, but will acquire additional points toward a visa application under the new guidelines.
Has the RAISE Act Become Law?
As of August, 2017, the RAISE Act is merely a proposal based on a previous bill that was proposed but not passed. Although Congress could vote to adopt the law, it is likely to face opposition and amendment. However, some form of immigration reform may be able to pass both houses of Congress, so it's important that sponsors of prospective immigrants get current legal advice from an experienced immigration attorney to keep abreast of any major changes that might affect their petitions and the lives of their family members.
For more information, contact companies like David Borts Law Office.