Likelihood of Raise Act Passing
On August 1, 2017, an immigration bill called the RAISE Act was introduced, which stands for Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy. So what steps are Congress and the proposers of this Bill taking in order to ensure a stronger economic impact from the passing of this bill? The RAISE Act leaves guest-worker programs untouched, and though it reduces family-based admissions, its impact on employers in the agriculture and tourism sectors is likely to be limited. At the same time, the bill doesn’t really do anything for low-wage employers as its aim is to reduce less-skilled immigration and, in effect, encourage employers into adopting more capital-intensive, higher-wage business models which require higher skilled more educated workers.
How could the RAISE Act be redesigned to increase skilled immigration levels? One approach would be to increase the number of employment-based visas. Right now, the RAISE Act simplifies how employment-based visas are distributed out with its points system, but it keeps the number of those visas flat at 140,000. If this cap were to be raised to 200,000, high-wage employers would be more enticed to consider hiring talent from abroad. Another major problem with the current status quo and the proposed Bill is the way the count meter is applied. Today, when an immigrant applies for an employment-based visa, they are entitled to bring their spouse and children along, but the entire family counts against the cap. This means that of the 140,000 employment-based visas granted every year, a large proportion actually go to the immediate family members accompanying the primary applicants. If spouses and children were exempt from the cap, the effective amount of skilled immigration would greatly increase, even if the cap remained the same. Embracing this approach would expand the RAISE Act’s candidates, which could make passing the bill a stronger possibility.
Further, there’s a case to be made that with a well-designed points system in place, it wouldn’t be so urgently important to reduce overall immigration levels. As discussed above, increasing the cap or only counting the primary applicant towards the cap would certainly make the politics of the RAISE Act a bit more attractive, especially to high-wage employers who’d welcome the prospect of an increase in the size of America’s skilled workforce. Until such changes are at least proposed as a counter to the current state of the bill, the RAISE Act will be unlikely to succeed.
If you have any questions regarding the RAISE Act or any other immigration related questions, please feel free to call Buda Law Group.
John B. Buda, Esq.
1201 W. Huntington Dr. Suite 209
Arcadia, CA 91007