‘RAISE ACT’ to eliminate most family petitions and create point system for employment green cards

ON August 2, 2017, Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) introduced the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, which would create a skills-based immigration points system, reduce the number of family-based immigrants, and void many existing family-based petitions.
Pres. Trump has wholeheartedly endorsed and supported this proposal, but we have to hope and pray it will never pass Congress, as its effects on bringing and uniting family members in the U.S. could be devastating.
Some key points of the Raise Act include:
• Changes the definition of “child” from an unmarried person under age 21 to an unmarried person under age 18. Therefore, once your child reaches his or her 18th birthday, you could not petition them as a “child.”
• Eliminates parents as “immediate relatives,” meaning a U.S. citizen would no longer be able to petition his or her parents for a green card. Only spouses and minor children (under age 18) of U.S. citizens would be considered immediate relatives.
• Parents of U.S. citizen children (who are at least 21 years of age) would need to apply for a “W” non-immigrant/temporary visa, valid in five-year increments. The parents would not be given work authorization, nor could they accept any federal, state, or local public benefits. The child would also have to provide proof of health insurance coverage “at no cost to the alien” during the parents’ entire time in the U.S.
• Only spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens (immediate relatives) or green card holders would be eligible for family-based petitions.
• Eliminates petitions for unmarried sons and daughters of US citizens (F-1) unmarried adult sons and daughters of green card holders (F-2B), married sons and daughters of brothers and US citizens (F-3), and sisters of U.S. citizens (F-4).
• Invalidates/voids any petition being eliminated by the RAISE Act filed after August 2, 2017. This means any petitions filed in the F-1, F-2B, F-3, or F-4 categories after August 2, 2017 would be invalidated, should this measure become law.
• Creates a points–based system for immigration through employment. Points would be awarded (sort of like a game show) based on such factors as age (the younger you are the more points), educational level (with doctorate degree scoring the highest points), English proficiency (the better you speak English, the more points you score), and whether the person is receiving a job offer at a high salary.
• Prohibits naturalization of a person, if they ever received certain public benefits while they were a green card holder and the sponsor on their affidavit of support has not reimbursed the federal government.
I want to emphasize this is merely a proposal, and is not yet law. However, this proposal aims to shift the focus of immigration from bringing families together to a game show point system, focusing on employment-based petitions.
I would suggest people should FILE petitions for their family members as soon as possible, especially in those categories being targeted for elimination. I know this proposal talks about voiding petitions filed after August 2017, but that may never happen, because the petition would have been accepted for filing, the check for the filing fee would have been cashed, and a person would have already been holding an approved petition by the time the RAISE Act becomes a law. They cannot take the approved petition away from you. And I know some of these petitions can take many, many years before the visas are available. However, if you keep delaying filing a family based petition, and the category is eliminated, then your family member may no longer be eligible to immigrate based on your petition.

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Michael J. Gurfinkel is licensed, and an active member of the State Bar of California and New York. All immigration services are provided by, or under the supervision of, an active member of the State Bar of California. Each case is different. The information contained herein including testimonials, “Success Stories,” endorsements and re-enactments) is of a general nature, and is not intended to apply to any particular case, and does not constitute a prediction, warranty, guarantee or legal advice regarding the outcome of your legal matter. No attorney-client relationship is, or shall be, established with any reader.

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Atty. Michael Gurfinkel
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