Trump’s Merit-Based Immigration Proposal

Trump’s merit-based immigration plan would favor highly-skilled workers over people with family ties to the United States. However, the program would end work permits for spouses of highly skilled workers. It is unlikely that the workers would choose to live and work in the U.S. if they could not bring their spouses and children. The proposal has gained little traction and is facing opposition from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

What Trump’s Proposal Would Do

The Trump Administration’s latest immigration proposal would end family-based immigration visas for the parents, adult children, and siblings of U.S. citizens. It would also end family-based immigration for the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents. The proposal would eliminate the diversity lottery and would substantially reduce the number of visas that are available to refugees each year. The total number of visas would remain unchanged at 1.1 million per year. By removing these other visa programs, the U.S. would add more visas for highly-skilled workers. However, the spouses of the highly skilled workers would no longer be eligible for work visas, making it unlikely that many of these workers would choose to come to the U.S. under the H-1B visa program.

If Trump’s proposal passed, it would change the way people are able to immigrate to the U.S. While the Trump Administration touts the proposal as attracting more highly educated and skilled workers to the U.S., the proposal would be likelier to harm technology companies and other industries that rely on highly skilled foreign workers to fill their open positions. Highly skilled foreign workers can choose to go to other countries that have more generous visa programs and that allow their spouses to live and work in their countries. For example, more highly skilled workers are now choosing to go to Canada instead of the U.S. because there are fewer restrictions there.

The proposed plan would also do nothing to help Dreamers and does not mention the DACA program.

The proposal met with opposition from both Republicans and Democrats. While it is unlikely to pass, it demonstrates the direction that the administration would like to go in terms of immigration reform.