President Donald Trump wants to change United States immigration policy by tying admission to job skills.
In his recent speech to Congress, Trump said changing the way America decides who can immigrate can help the economy.
“It’s a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially. Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon.”
Trump said such a system is used successfully in Canada and Australia. Basing immigration on job skills is sometimes called a “merit-based” system. Under the current system, immigrants are taking jobs away from Americans by agreeing to work for lower pay, he said.
It would be a major change in U.S. policy, which now gives a preference to spouses, children, and parents of American citizens. In 2014, family-based immigrants made up 64 percent of all new legal permanent residents in the United States, reports the Migration Policy Institute.
Marie Price, an immigration expert at George Washington University, said if the U.S. moves to a merit-based immigration system, it needs to do so carefully.
She noted that in Canada admission is based largely on a point system giving higher scores to people with special skills and advanced degrees. But she said many of those admitted ended up driving taxis or delivering food because they could not find jobs to meet their education skills. In some cases, professional licenses from other countries were not accepted in Canada.
Since then, the point system has been changed so that people who can show they have job offers in Canada are given preference, said Sharyn Aiken of Queens University Law School in Canada. In addition, Canada looks at who can fill a range of jobs for which there are shortages of workers – such as child care, not just those requiring advanced college degrees, Aiken said.