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No economic difference between merit-based and family-based visas

On Behalf of | Mar 2, 2018 | Family Immigration |

A new study has found that there is no significant difference between the benefits that family-based immigration and merit-based immigration provide to the U.S. economy. The study’s findings run contrary to President Donald Trump’s insistence that the economy would benefit from an immigration system that was solely based on merit. The study, authored by a law professor at Rutgers University, found several other important facts about family-based and merit-based immigration.

Family-based vs. merit-based immigration

Family-based immigration is a process in which U.S. residents who hold green cards can sponsor a family member for a visa to the United States. This is currently the most common method of immigration in the country. Merit-based immigration would prioritize visas for highly educated or skilled immigrants who also speak English. The Trump administration claims that merit-based immigration would create higher wages and increase national productivity. The administration is currently pushing for a system that is solely merit-based.

No significant difference in earning power

The president’s claims that a merit-based system would excel over family-based immigration for boosting the economy does not have any evidence backing it. Very few studies have compared the economic power of immigrants based on their visa type. The Rutgers study is one of the few in the country to examine the issue, and its findings may be surprising.

The research found evidence that visa type does not indicate an immigrant’s level of income. It also failed to find significant disparities in earning type between immigrants who have merit-based or family-based visas. This means that a merit-based immigration system would not necessarily have an economic advantage over a family-based one. Further, it showed that many immigrants who come to the United States through family-sponsored visas are very economically productive and are capable of earning high incomes.


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