Trump Announces Plans for Merit-Based Immigration System

Trump Announces Plans for Merit-Based Immigration System
Bernadine Racoma

On Wednesday of this week, President Trump and two Republican senators announced their support to legislation for a merit-based immigration system. It is meant to cut legal immigration admissions to the U.S. significantly.

Arkansas Senator, Tom Cotton, and Georgia Senator, David Perdue, were with the President when he discussed the merit-based immigration system at the White House. They believe that the legislation will be able to reduce the annual issuance of green cards from one million to 500,000.

Based on the fact sheet that the White House released to reporters, the merit-based immigration system will favor those who speak English, are educated and have job offers with higher pays.

This will effectively reduce the acceptance of unskilled and low-skilled immigrants. According to the President, with this system, the new immigrants will be able to support their families and themselves financially.


The two Republican senators are the authors of the “Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act” (RAISE Act) that prevents new immigrants, as well as migrants, from collecting welfare. It will also prevent displacement of U.S. workers.

The RAISE Act will do away with Diversity Lottery Visas, which will affect those countries sending few immigrants to the U.S., which this program favors.

Aside from reducing the number of refugees that will be given permanent residency (50,000 annually), the merit-based immigration system will also remove the immigrants’ ability to sponsor visas for their adult children and members of their extended family.

The Act, because it will become a points system like in Australia and Canada, will favor younger immigrants with better qualifications aside from being good English speakers.

Crackdown on Immigration

Immigration issues have been one of Trump’s battle cries during the presidential campaign. He has said many times that the U.S. is suffering due to the number of unskilled or low-skilled immigrants.

According to Trump, the situation has badly hit the U.S. minority groups that had to compete with the new arrivals for jobs. According to the administration’s statistics, 30 percent of native households in the U.S receive welfare benefits, which is 20% lower compared to the immigrant households that are receiving welfare benefits as well.

What’s in the Merit-Based Immigration System?

The President was with the two senators who authored the bill in the hope of bringing attention to the proposal for the merit-based immigration system, which was actually presented in February.

Senate has ignored it and other lawmakers are wont to sign on as co-sponsor of the bill. There is no inclination from the leaders of the GOP to vote on immigration, at least for this year.

Immigrant advocates say that limiting legal immigration will harm the economy, as it will affect several industries, including agriculture.

If the plan for the merit-based immigration system is approved by Congress, target immigrants would be in their mid-20s to early 30s, with a professional or doctorate degree, very fluent in English and whose salary offer is three times higher than the median income in their home country or current place of residence.

Thirty points is the minimum before a candidate can apply. Point distribution is like this:


  • 18-21 = 6 points
  • 22-25 = 8 points
  • 26-30 = 10 points
  • 31-35 = 8 points
  • 36-40 = 6 points
  • 41-45 = 4 points
  • 46-50 = 2 points
  • Minors under 18 and those over 50, although still encouraged to apply will receive zero points


  • Applicant with U.S. high school diploma (or foreign equivalent) = 1 point
  • Foreign bachelor’s degree = 5 points
  • U.S. bachelor’s degree = 6 points
  • Foreign master’s degree in STEM fields = 7 points
  • U.S. master’s degree = 8 points
  • Foreign professional degree or doctorate = 10 points
  • U.S. professional degree or doctorate = 13 points

English Language Ability

  • A standardized English test will be administered, and those scoring 60% will receive zero points.
  • 60% – 80% = 6 points
  • 80% – 90% = 10 points
  • 90% and above = 11 points
  • 100% = 12 points

Job Offer

  • Offer is at least 150% of the median household income in the state where the applicant received a job offer = 5 points
  • If the offer goes up to 200% of the median = 8 points
  • If the offer is 300% of the median = 13 points


  • Nobel Prize winner or equivalent = 25 points
  • Olympian (individual Olympic medal winner or athletes who compete in international sporting events = 15 points


  • For an investor willing to invest $1.35 million in new commercial enterprise and maintains it for three years = 6 points
  • Investment is $1.8 million = 12 points

It’s anticipated that this new merit-based immigration system will be in the news in the coming days and will be the subject of many comments and arguments.

On Wednesday, White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller and CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta already had a clash about the issue during the press briefing.

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