Immigration Based on Skills Rather than Family Ties

In February, Republican Senators, with the support of President Trump, introduced legislation that would turn the United States immigration system on its head. The legislation, referred to as the RAISE Act, would favor those who want to immigrate to the United States through employment or investment opportunities over those who have family ties. As the U.S. immigration system currently stands, U.S. citizens can petition the federal government to obtain immigration status for family members, such as minor children, spouses, and parents. The RAISE Act would allow fewer immigration visas based on family ties and would permit more immigration visas to those who seek work in the United States.

Point-System Evaluations

People who express interest in working in the U.S. would be evaluated on a point system to determine who is allowed into the country. The point system would give more points to people who have college degrees and more points to those who obtained their degrees in the United States. More points would be awarded for those who have degrees in the science, technology, engineering, or math fields. Additionally, the system would favor younger applicants who are closer to age 25. They would be awarded the highest amount of points in the age category and those points awarded would decrease as the person ages. Applicants would also be able to obtain points if they had a relatively high-paying job offer and high English-subject test scores. If a person wanted to invest at least $1.5 million in the United States, this would earn the applicant a higher number of points as well.

This drastic change in the immigration system would disproportionately affect people who emigrate from the Philippines, India, Mexico, Dominican Republic, China, and Vietnam, as these populations generally have the highest numbers of family-based immigrants.


Under the RAISE Act, instead of having immigration based primarily on the idea of keeping families intact, it would rely more heavily on a skills or merit-based system. This would reduce the number of family-based immigrants from 226,000 yearly to approximately 88,000. Additionally, the RAISE Act would seek to eliminate the Diversity Visa program, which provides visas specifically to countries with traditionally low numbers of applicants. Under the RAISE Act, the skills-based immigrants would make up more than half of documented immigrants, and it would lower the cap on the number of refugees permitted to enter the U.S.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Advocate for Those Affected by the RAISE Act

The Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. are aware of the potential future changes to immigration law. We can explain these issues so that our clients can make informed decisions about how to proceed. Call us at 215-925-4435 or contact us online to discuss your case today.