Merit-based immigration to United States

The United States admits over 1.1 million immigrants every year. It is estimated that over 66% of them come to the US-based on family ties and not any merit linked criteria. The US administration under Trump plans to give the priority in immigration to skill-based applicants.

What happens currently?

  • The US currently issues a set number of green cards (issued to legal immigrants which allow settling in the US permanently) every year.
  • While 66% are issued to family members of the people living currently in the US, 21% are issued to people on humanitarian grounds while just 12% are the skill-based merit linked issues.
  • The Indians had received 17% of all employment-based green cards in 2017 which is the highest among all nations -but received only 5% of the family-based ones.
  • Cina was a close second with 14% Chinese getting 14% employment-based green cards.
  • Mexico, which shares a large drug prone and the violent border with the southern United States received 20% of all US green cards, most of which were family-based.

What is planned?

The US administration plans to increase the share of employment-related visas to 57% of the total mix with the share of family green cards being reduced to 33% of the total mix.

How it will benefit the Indians?

  • While the number of green cards will remain the same, the move away from a family-based system to a merit-based system is expected to benefit the Indian community, most of whom are highly educated and trained.
  • In a study conducted by the US department of immigration, it was observed that the most well educated and trained professionals come from India.
  • Between 2012 and 2017, more than 86% of the total Indian immigrants in the U.S. had at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • This is the largest proportion of highly skilled immigrants with immigrants holding a bachelor’s degree from China and Mexico accounted for only 58% and 16% of their total applicants respectively.



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