The RAISE Act Unveiled

On August 2, 2017, President Trump unveiled the revised RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) Act, previously introduced by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) in February 2017.  The revised RAISE Act would reduce legal immigration to the United States to 500,000 individuals annually by reprioritizing worker skills over family relationships. In essence, the bill would create new parameters for obtaining a green card for U.S. company employees and decrease family immigration numbers.  Specifically, the RAISE Act would:

  • Base the issuance of employment-based green cards on a point system where applicants must meet a 30-point threshold to be considered.  The point system would award an applicant higher point totals for higher-salaried jobs, professional degrees, English-speaking ability, younger applicant age, higher future salary, extraordinary achievements, and an applicant’s investing $1.35 million or more in the United States.  The number of employment-based green cards would remain capped at 140,000 per year. 
  • Eliminate preferences for extended and adult family members of U.S. residents while retaining immigration preferences for the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and green card holders.  The family-based quota would be limited to 88,000 per year with certain defined reductions.
  • Eliminate the 50,000 visas allocated for the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery for people from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.
  • Reduce the amount of refugees admitted into the U.S. from 110,000 to 50,000 and eliminate the executive branch’s ability to modify refugee admissions in response to international crises.
  • Add an additional indemnification requirement before a green card holder may petition for U.S. citizenship.

While the RAISE Act reduces the number of eligible family-based green cards, it does not raise the number of employment-based green cards from the currently-capped number of 140,000. The RAISE Act does not specifically mention nonimmigrant work visas (such as H-1Bs or L-1s) but if the bill becomes law, individuals holding a nonimmigrant work visa would have to go through the new points-based system in order to obtain a green card.

We will continue to monitor this bill and report on any significant developments.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.