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US to roll out ‘merit-based’ immigration system similar to Australia

FILE: US House votes to slap sanctions on Russia, Iran and NKorea. Source: AAP

US has proposed a new merit based immigration system where an applicant will need atleast 30 points to apply for a green card.

While Australia is planning a major overhaul to its current visa system and debate continues about citizenship, US on Wednesday announced it was introducing a ‘merit-based’ immigration system that would see highly skilled, English-speaking, young people being granted green cards which is a permanent residency visa.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday spoke about this bill which will replace current employment based visas with a point system, which is similar to the immigration system used by Australia and Canada.

Trump said, "The RAISE ACT will help reduce poverty, increase wages & save taxpayers billions of dollars. It will do this by changing the way the United States issues Green Cards to nationals from other countries."

Trump blasted the current immigration system as out of date and argued that it hurts American workers by driving down wages.

"This competitive application process will favour applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy," Trump said.

If approved by Congress, the new system will see candidates requiring atleast 30 points to apply for a green card, CNN reports.

Here's how the points would be calculated:


  • People aged between 18 and 21 will get 6 points, aged from 22 to 25 will get 8 points and aged from 26 to 30 will get 10 points.
  • The points then decrease, with those aged between 31 and 35 getting 8 points, between 36 and 40 getting 6 points, ages 41 through 45 getting 4 points and ages 46 through 50 getting 2 points.
  • Those under 18 and above 50 get no points but those over 50 are still allowed to apply.


Higher the degree a person has achieved, more points they get.

  • A US high school diploma or foreign equivalent gets 1 point.
  • A foreign bachelor's degree earns 5 points, while a US bachelor's degree earns 6 points.
  • A foreign master's degree in STEM fields earns 7 points while a US master's earns 8 points.
  • A foreign professional degree or doctorate earns 10 points and a US equivalent earns 13.

English ability

English ability will be measured by TOEFL and IELTS tests.

  • Anyone with less than a 60th percentile proficiency gets no points.
  • Between 60th and 80th percentile will get 6 points.
  • Those in the 80th to 90th percentile range earn 10 points and someone with a 90th percentile proficiency or above earns 11 points.
  • Those in the 100th percentile range earn 12 points.

Job offer

  • 5 points are awarded if an applicant has a job offer that will pay at least 150% of median household income in the state where he or she will be employed.
  • 8 points if the income is 200% the median income
  • 13 points if it's 300% the median

Award Winners

25 Bonus points will be given for "extraordinary achievement," like a Nobel prize or something "comparable". 


15 points would be given to someone who has earned an individual Olympic medal or relatively competitive international sporting event.

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