A skills-based immigration system@USA

Trump backs plan that would curb legal immigration
By Sara Murray and Dan Merica, CNN
Updated 1:49 PM ET, Wed August 2, 2017

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump threw his support Wednesday behind legislation that looks to curb the level of legal immigration into the United States by proposing a skills-based immigration system.
Trump backed the effort from Republican Sens. David Perdue and Tom Cotton in a speech at the White House. But the plan faces long odds in Congress.
Top White House aides have been working with Perdue and Cotton on the bill that -- if passed -- would dramatically remake the current immigration system, which allows a number of ways to bring family members to the US along with job-based visas.
Trump cast the proposal as a way to protect American workers by reducing unskilled immigration and creating a merit-based system that grades possible immigrants based on their ability to work in the United States.
"It has not been fair to our people, to our citizens, to our workers," Trump said of the current immigration system, specifically citing low-income and minority workers.
The bill, Trump said, "would represent the most significant reform to our immigration system in half a century."
Long odds in Congress
The effort is expected to be met with skepticism from both Democrats and Republicans. But Trump's support could help the measure gain traction.
Cotton, of Arkansas, and Perdue, of Georgia, initially unveiled the "Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act" in February, arguing that the bill will "help raise American workers' wages by restoring legal immigration levels to their historical norms and rebalancing the system toward employment-based visas and immediate-family household members."
"We are taking action to fix some of the shortcomings in our legal immigration system," Perdue said at the time. "Returning to our historically normal levels of legal immigration will help improve the quality of American jobs and wages."
Cotton's office told CNN in July that the bill will be reintroduced with slight changes, but that the goal remains reducing legal immigration to the United States by 50%.
The original version of the bill cut back on what's referred to as "chain migration," ways of immigrating to the United States that are based on family or not based on skills. The bill would limit the types of family members of immigrants that can also be brought to the US to primarily spouses and minor children, would eliminate the international diversity visa lottery and limit the number of annual refugee admissions.
White House aides involved in the current effort include Stephen Miller, a senior adviser for policy and a Trump speechwriter; Julia Hahn, a special assistant to the President; and Andrew Bremberg, a policy aide.
Trump has long said he wants to reform the nation's immigration system, but any plan to do that seems like less of a priority for an administration that is now focused on health care, tax reform and a host of international issues.
"What I'd like to do is a comprehensive immigration plan," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One in July. "But our country and political forces are not ready yet."


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How to earn 'points' under Trump's immigration plan

By Tal Kopan, CNN
Updated 0133 GMT (0933 HKT) August 3, 2017

President Donald Trump on Wednesday got behind a bill to drastically cut legal immigration and replace current employment based visas with a point system.
The plan mimics systems used by Australia and Canada, which Trump has often praised, in awarding points to potential immigrants based on broad categories. The 140,000 visas available annually under this system would be distributed to the highest point-getters first.
Under the plan -- if approved by Congress, which will be a heavy lift -- the highest point-getting candidate, for example, not including special circumstances, would be a 26- to 31-year-old with a US-based doctorate or professional degree, who speaks nearly perfect English and who has a salary offer that's three times as high as the median income where they are.
Have an Olympic medal or Nobel Prize? That will help too.
A candidate must have at least 30 points to apply.
Here's how the points would be doled out:

Priority is given to prime working ages. Someone aged 18 through 21 gets six points, ages 22 through 25 gets eight points and ages 26 through 30 get 10 points.
The points then decrease, with someone aged 31 through 35 getting eight points, 36 through 40 getting six points, ages 41 through 45 getting four points and ages 46 through 50 getting two points.
Minors under the age of 18 and those over the age of 50 receive no points, though people over 50 years old are still allowed to apply.

Points are distributed based on the highest degree a person has achieved. One point is given for an applicant with a US high school diploma or the foreign equivalent. A foreign bachelor's degree earns five points, while a US bachelor's degree earns six points.
A foreign master's degree in STEM fields earns seven points while a US master's earns eight points. A foreign professional degree or doctorate earns 10 points and a US equivalent earns 13.

English ability
Points are also given out for English ability, as determined by standardized English test.
Anyone with less than a 60th percentile proficiency gets no points. Between 60th and 80th percentile is worth six points, someone in the 80th to 90th percentile range earns 10 points, someone with a 90th percentile proficiency or above earns 11 points, and someone in the 100th percentile range earns 12 points.

Job offer?
The only point scale that factors in whether an individual actually has a job offer in the US comes in the form of salary in an effort to boost wages.
Five points are awarded if an applicant has a job offer that will pay at least 150% of median household income in the state where he or she will be employed. That goes up to eight points if the income is 200% the median income, and 13 points if it's 300% the median.

Nobel Prize
There are bonus points available for "extraordinary achievement," mainly reserved for major international awards. The system grants 25 points to someone who has won a Nobel prize or something "comparable."

Fifteen points would be given to someone earning an individual Olympic medal or relatively competitive international sporting event.

The bill would eliminate a category of visas that spurred foreign investment in the US, the EB-5 program, which was used by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner's family businesses to build major real estate projects.
That concept is represented by awarding six points to an applicant who invests $1.35 million into a "new commercial enterprise" in the US, maintained for three years and with that individual holding management of that business as his or her primary application. The points go up to 12 if the investment is $1.8 million.

The bill also requires applicants, if they want to bring a spouse with them, to calculate the points the spouse would earn under the same rubric.

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