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What does Trump mean with merit-based immigration

| May 25, 2019 | Employment Immigration

The president has attacked the country’s immigration policies on several fronts as part of his declared emergency. Whether the migrants seek asylum, cross the border illegally or apply through official channels, the president sees them all as a threat.

The one group that he seems to welcome, at least this week, are those who have specific job skills. Rather than migrants with family already here, the skilled worker will be the one to get the green card. The president argues that New Zealand, Canada or Australia are allowing in merit-based workers at a much higher rate of 60% to 70%, as opposed to the 12% rate it currently is here in the United States. The web site Politifact.com analyzed these recent statements by the president and deemed them to be true mostly, but these other countries have different definitions that need to be clarified to accurately compare the numbers.

What immigrants have merit in the U.S.?

This will be the question in the coming weeks. Is it techies working in Silicon Valley? Medical staff working in rural areas of the country? Carpenters who will rebuild the homes of California residents after the wildfires?

The short answer is that the president wants highly educated immigrants. The merit would be measured on a point system with a total number of points needed to move to and work in the United States. The idea is based on Australia’s system. The threshold varies in different industries, but the minimum is 65 points for a selection, and some areas can reach 90 points. An example of how applicants are measured would be:

  • 20 points for superior English skills
  • 20 points for a Doctorate (15 for a Masters)
  • 15 points or less for previous experience overseas
  • Bonus points for previously being employed in Australia

Not official policy yet

This is not official policy, but it will likely be how the president frames his immigration policy for his 2020 campaign. It would take more significant changes to the immigration system that is already hard to understand.

We will watch for legislation on this

Immigration laws and rules seem to change every week as court rulings affirm or deny new policies from the White House. Those with questions can call a knowledgeable immigration lawyer who can give specific answers about how to address the unique circumstances of an immigrant or family member.

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