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Does The United States Have a “Points-Based” Immigration System?


Many countries utilize a points-based system to assess potential immigrants. The concept is quite simple: Get enough points, and you’ll receive a visa. However, the United States may soon adopt a slightly different system than many other countries – and it’s important to understand how this all works. A concrete understanding of America’s “Merit-Based Immigration” program can help you pursue and obtain a visa with confidence.

Merit-Based Immigration May Arrive in the Future 

First of all, it’s important to note that as of this writing, the United States has no points-based immigration system. This is simply something that has been suggested by lawmakers, and it may arrive at some point in the future. In its current form, merit-based immigration is part of the “Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act – also known simply as the “RAISE” Act. Under this new proposed system, immigrants will receive a certain number of points when applying for visas.

How Many Points Do I Need to Get a Green Card in the United States? 

Under the RAISE Act, applicants would need 30 points to qualify for a green card. There are many ways to earn points under this new system, including:

  • Being sufficiently young (mid-to-late 20s)
  • Having STEM degrees
  • Passing an English language proficiency test
  • Winning awards or medals for extraordinary achievements
  • Having a current job offer in the United States
  • Being willing to invest in or start a new American enterprise

The system would be complex, highlighting the need to work alongside qualified immigration attorneys for best results. An initial consultation with an immigration attorney may dissuade applicants who stand little chance of qualifying. For example, those over the age of 51 would receive zero age-based points. However, those between the ages of 18 and 21 would receive 6 points – or 20% of the required 30. A STEM doctorate degree would instantly give you 13 points, while strong English fluency would give you 12 points. If you win a Nobel Laureate or a similar award, you could receive as many as 25 points.

Will the RAISE Act Pass? 

It is not clear whether the RAISE Act will ever pass. It may rely on the next federal election cycle, as it has strong support from Republicans. In contrast, it has faced serious opposition from Democrats – largely because it will sharply reduce family-based visas, the visa diversity lottery, and many other elements of the current immigration system. While the RAISE Act may be advantageous to some, it may also make getting a visa more difficult for others. It’s important to keep a close eye on new developments in the United States’ immigration system – especially with a presidential election approaching.

Find a Qualified, Experienced Immigration Lawyer in Palm Beach County 

If you’ve been searching for a qualified, experienced immigration lawyer in Palm Beach County, look no further than the Devore Law Group. Over the years, we have helped countless immigrants assess their options when approaching a new home in the United States. Merit-based immigration is only one potential option, and there are many others worth discussing. Book a consultation today to assess your immigration options in more detail.


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