How Would Trump’s RAISE Act Impact H1B and L1 Visa Holders?
On August 3, 2017, Trump announced his support for the RAISE Act, the Reforming America’s Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, co-sponsored by the republican senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, as a solution for improving workers’ wages in the United States.
This legislation is in favor of having less immigrants coming into the United States, which means they want to cut the number of green cards issued by 50% over the next ten years. At the moment, the United States issues about 1 million green cards each year — with this new legislation, only 500,000 green cards would be issued each year. The bill would also end the visa diversity lottery and decrease the chance of opportunity for many to come work in the United States.
Before you freak out, remember that this is only a proposal and will take years to implement because of the back-and-forth that republicans and democrats will get into over the bill. The terms and conditions of the act would slowly shift as a middle ground between the two parties would have to be found for the bill to pass.
Regardless of how long it will take, we want you to understand this new proposal and what it means for immigration and the economy. In this article we will summarize it for you so that you stay in the know on all things that could possibly affect you in the future.
What is in the RAISE ACT?
The RAISE ACT, or the Reforming America’s Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, is a bill that was introduced by two republican senators in the United States Senate in 2017 against bringing in more immigrants into the country. This act has been the subject of much debate and has caused upheaval, because its demands have great implications for a lot of immigrants.
Possible Changes to Expect due to Trump’s RAISE ACT
Here some possible changes you can expect due to the introduction of the RAISE ACT.
1. Limited Access to Green Cards
The Green Card is the United States lawful permanent residency card; it authorizes a person to live and work in the US permanently. At the moment, the US issues about 1 million green cards each year. If the RAISE act were to go in effect, this number would be slashed in half, meaning that instead of issuing 1 million green cards a year, the US would only issue 500,000 each year. As stated in the Washington Post, this legislation plans to restructure the country’s green card program to favor applicants based on educational levels, job skills, and English-language ability.
2. Elimination of the Diversity Visa Program
This program is also known as the green card lottery of the United States, with which people can receive a permanent resident card. Today, millions of people apply for this visa every year and the lottery program issues 50,000 permanent resident visas each year to people from Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Oceania. According to the bill, the whole diversity program would be eliminated.
3. Changes in Immigration Law for Family Members
The bill also affects the immigration law for family members. Right now, people who have family members living in the US have priority when applying for the green card. If this bill comes into effect, these family members won’t have any priority, but spouses and children under the age of 18 would be given preference. Currently, all spouses and children under the age of 21 are given preference, but with this bill, the age would come down to 18 years old. The new rule also allows sick parents of US residents to enter the country on a renewable five-year visa, as long as the resident promises to financially support the sick parent during the stay.
4. Fewer Green Cards for Refugees
One of the biggest downfalls to the reform is the cut in green cards available to refugees. Right now (under the administration of Obama) 110,000 refugees were given the opportunity to receive a green card each year. With this proposed bill, only 50,000 green cards will be given to refugees each year, cutting the issuances more than 50%.
5. Introduction of a Point Based System for Employment-based Green Cards
Every year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues 140,000 employment based green cards. With the new system, applicants will need to achieve at least 30 points in order to be able to apply for a green card. The new system seeks immigrants who will succeed and expand the economy. Although the USCIS will issue the same number of green cards, the criteria for who gets a green card will follow a point-based category. Below we explain the system so you can see what kind of people this point-based system will take into the United States.
Educational qualification by degree
First, you will be given a number of points indicating your value to the economy depending on the amount of education you have received. For instance, if you have a doctorate degree, you will gain a promising 13 points in the point-based system, but will receive only 1 point if you have a high school diploma.
Although it seems a bit discriminatory, younger people usually contribute to an economy more than older people do. If you are over the age of 50, you will only be eligible to receive 1 point in this category.
Level of English
Before applying, all applicants have to have taken an English test like the IELTS or TOEFL. Depending on your English proficiency, points will be distributed accordingly. Higher levels of English equal larger amounts of points and vice versa.
These points depend on the salary you are offered by your future company, the higher the offered salary, the higher your point will be.
If you invest in the business, you get points depending on the amount of your investment.
If you have extraordinary achievements, like winning a gold medal in the Olympics or winning the Nobel peace prize, your points will skyrocket in this system.
Therefore, if you are able to reach more than 30 points, you are eligible to apply for the US green card. If you do not even get to 30 points, then the new system does not even allow you to apply for the green card. So to all the young people wanting to work in the United States, make sure you consider winning a Nobel peace prize to increase your chances of fulfilling your “American dream.”
What’s the Future for Trump, H1B Visa Holders, and the Raise Act?
So far, the future does not look so good for the RAISE Act.
Economists predict that this proposed cut in immigration would negatively impact the GDP growth of the United States. Also, several famous economists wrote a joint letter to Trump warning him about the bill, as immigrants bring several economic benefits to the United States — especially to technology companies in Silicon Valley who are dependent on highly skilled immigrant employees.
For now, the prospect of the act making it through Congress is not great because of the sheer amount of opposition from the Democrats and immigrant rights groups. These groups will make it difficult for the act to actually go through, keeping many at ease with the future of a United States that is open to immigrants in the future. All in all, the chance that the act passes the Senate and the house to become an actual law is very low and unlikely.
The bill would not actually save the US from its economic woes because immigration has proven to have helped the US economy grow. The bill may help to relieve the pressure on low-skilled workers, but the act will definitely not help the United States to be globally competitive. Rather, the bill would prove to do the opposite and create greater barriers for the US economy.
How does the RAISE Act impact H1B and L1 visa holders?
Currently, the bill will not affect those holding these two types of visas.
However, if the RAISE Act actually goes through, there will definitely be impacts for people wanting to receive an H1B or L1 visa. This is because, under the new act, the whole employment-based green card system would change to a point-based system, changing the criteria and requirements for those pursuing a green card with these types of visas. But for now, there is no actual impact so do not worry too much about the future of your stay in the United States.
Overall, this act has been the subject of much debate and will continue to be the subject of many more in the near future. If it really gets through, it will have great consequences for thousands of current immigrants and hopeful immigrants wanting to come to the United States. The act will most likely change the way the USCIS deals with visas like the H1B visa and the L1 visa and decrease the number of people able to receive these visas. However, as mentioned before, the bill is not even close to being approved by the Senate, which puts it further away from becoming actual law.
Trump: H1B, L1, and the Raise Act — The Conclusion
We recommend that you do not worry and continue on with your lives as usual because all will stay as it is for the time being. We wish you the best of luck in your visa endeavors and green card goals and are here for you if you have any questions about current immigration processes. If there are any changes regarding the RAISE Act we will keep you updated so you know what to expect as Congress decides on immigration issues in Washington D.C.
If you have any further questions or want to add more information on the topic, feel free to get in contact with us.