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The Point System’s Future Impact on Foreign Nurses and other Potential Immigrants

From: National Foundation For American Policy

By: Stuart Anderson


Foreign nurses, vital to addressing America’s nursing shortage in the midst of an aging U.S. population, would be unlikely to gain entry to the United States under the immigration point system contained in S. 1348, the Senate immigration bill. Other categories of professionals and skilled individuals are also unlikely to become immigrants under the new – and perhaps inappropriately named – “merit” visas. Internationally renowned actors, athletes, physicians in rural areas, factory managers, certain executives and possibly even Nobel Prize winners may all be left out due to fundamental flaws in the legislation.

The most serious flaws are insufficient annual limits and mandating an immigration system skewed toward “paper” qualifications. The bill’s language contains ambiguity with regards to such basic questions as to whether points will be awarded for the intended occupation in the United States and what happens when applicants apply in excess of the annual limits. Under one interpretation of the bill a Nobel Prize winner would be better off with a job offer from McDonald’s than MIT. How the per country limits in the bill operate in practice will determine whether even individuals who score among the highest will be able to gain permanent residence. If 100,000 people from India score 80 or higher under the system but 1,000 individuals from Luxembourg score 40 or less, would the 1,000 people from Luxembourg gain a visa while most of the potential Indian immigrants are denied?

Family members of U.S. citizens, including the adult children and siblings the bill would no longer permit to be sponsored, are exceedingly unlikely to gain admission, despite the assurances of the bill’s supporters. In fact, it would be misleading for anyone to claim the point system, as structured in the Senate bill, would allow the entry of adult children of U.S. citizens. The number of people applying under the point system will be far in excess of those annually permitted, leaving foreign nurses and other potential immigrants on the outside of America looking in. Based just on the individuals expected to work on temporary visas and those already waiting for green cards, the oversubscription to the point system should easily reach 1 million people within 5 years of the bill’s passage.

If the point system in S. 1348 became law, then no employer in America can be assured that a valued employee or prospective new hire would become a legal immigrant and be able to stay permanently in the United States. Employers need certainty, as one immigration specialist notes, and this bill does not provide it. Upturning the entire legal immigration system on the basis of a backroom deal designed to pass a controversial bill is an enormous gamble for the nation. It is not a risk worth taking.

If the Senate CIR Bill is passed, this will be the new U.S. policy regarding foreign workers.

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