On 2 August 2017, Senators Tom Cotton (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.), with the endorsement of President Trump, proposed new legislation that would change the eligibility requirements for employment-based permanent residence 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 residence status with a points-based system similar to the ones used by Australia and Canada.
Under the new bill, the US Department of Homeland Security would not increase the number of green cards available based on employment sponsorship, keeping the cap at 140,000 per fiscal year. This could make it more difficult for employers to hire workers that they need. 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. Applicants would be required to create an online profile which would be entered into a pool of candidates. An applicant’s profile would be valid for 12 months and every 6 months, the Director of USCIS would issue eligible candidates an invitation to apply for permanent residence status. If an invitation to apply for permanent residence is issued, the applicant will be given 90 days to submit the relevant supporting documentation. If the applicant does not receive an invitation to apply for a points-based immigrant visa within this period, he/she will be required to create a new profile and reapply.
The bill also proposes to eliminate the Diversity Visa program and redefine "immediate relative" for the purpose of immigrant visa sponsorship. While immigrant visas for spouses and minor children of US 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.
Finally, the bill would restrict the availability of Federal means-tested public benefits to permanent residents within the first 5 years of becoming a permanent resident.