Skilled immigrants only: US to replace green cards with Build America visa

Every year the US issues nearly 1.1 million green cards, which gives foreign nationals life-time permission to live and work in the US and a path to citizenship in five years
Donald Trump has said he will replace the existing green Cards with ‘Build America’ visa, as the US President unveiled a new merit and points-based immigration policy that seeks to increase the quota for highly-skilled workers from 12 to 57 per cent.

Every year, the US issues nearly 1.1 million green cards, which gives foreign nationals life-time permission to live and work in the US and a path to citizenship in five years.

Currently most of the cards are issued based on family links and diversity, and a small section is given to people who are professionals and highly skilled.

“Our proposal fulfils our sacred duty to those living here today, while ensuring America remains a welcoming country to immigrants joining us tomorrow. We want immigrants coming in,” Trump said in a major immigration policy address in the Rose Garden of the White House.

“We cherish the open door that we want to create for our country, but a big proportion of those immigrants must come in through merit and skill,” he said.

The White House plan makes no change to the number of green cards allocated each year.

“Instead of admitting people through random chance, we will establish simple, universal criteria for admission to the United States. No matter where in the world you're born, no matter who your relatives are, if you want to become an American citizen, it will be clear exactly what standard we ask you to achieve. It will be made crystal clear,” Trump said.

“This will increase the diversity of immigration flows into our country. We will replace the existing green Card categories with a new visa, the Build America visa — which is what we all want to hear,” Trump said amidst applause from the audience.

Trump said like Canada and many other modern countries, his administration seeks to create an “easy-to-navigate points-based” selection system.

“You will get more points for being a younger worker, meaning you will contribute more to our social safety net. You will get more points for having a valuable skill, an offer of employment, an advanced education, or a plan to create jobs,” he said.

In the absence of such a system, America is losing people who want to start companies, and in many cases, are forced to leave the country and go back to the country where they came from, he said.

“They could've started them (companies) right here in the United States, where they wanted to do it in the first place. Now they'll have a chance,” Trump said.

The President said priority will also be given to higher-wage workers to ensure the American labour is never undercut. To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient, he said.

“Finally, to promote integration, assimilation, and national unity, future immigrants will be required to learn English and to pass a civics exam prior to admission. Through these steps, we will deliver an immigration system that respects, and even strengthens, our culture, our traditions, and our values,” Trump said. According to him, Americans with criminal records are getting a second chance at life in higher numbers than ever before.

Unfortunately, current immigration rules allow foreign workers to substitute Americans seeking entry-level jobs. “America’s immigration system should bring in people who will expand opportunity for striving, low-income Americans, not to compete with those low-income Americans," he said.

As a result, the annual green card flow is mostly low-wage and low-skilled, he rued, adding that newcomers compete for jobs against the most vulnerable Americans and put pressure on social safety.