It could soon become more difficult for Jamaicans to get a US green card following a proposal from President Donald Trump that will include significant changes to the way green cards are allocated.
The proposal will include dramatically reducing the number of family-based green cards and moving towards a points-based system that will reward, among other factors, education, skills and English language proficiency.
The plan is aimed at boosting border security and tightening asylum procedures.
The President’s new plan will dramatically increase the number of green cards that are given through the skills route versus the family-based route. However, the overall number of green cards, just over 1.1 million in 2017, will remain the same.
Currently about 12 per cent of those receiving green cards entered the U.S. based on skill-based visas, while 66% are family-based green cards. The new proposal will increase skills-based green cards to 57%.
Points will be awarded to applicants based on their education, work experience, age, and English language ability. New immigrants will have to show that they can financially support themselves and will need to pass a civics exam.
Trump also announced that there would be a new "Build America" visa – details of which were not provided yesterday.
His speech made references to foreign workers displacing low income Americans' jobs and highly valuable graduates leaving America to start companies in their own countries because they could not get a visa in America.
People given Green Cards on humanitarian and diversity grounds will now only constitute 10 per cent of all Green Card recipients.
Currently, the diversity lottery offers 50,000 green cards to under-represented groups each year.
Jamaica Diaspora Board Member and US-based immigration lawyer, Wayne Golding, outlined some of the implications for Jamaicans applying for a green card.
“It’s saying that they are looking to cut back on the Green card for family reunification. It’s a proposal that has been on the table . We will see an impact, if it ever passes,” Golding said.
He also said that the repercussions from the proposed green card changes will be wide ranging.
“They’re many people who never had any idea that they would have the option of going to the United States but the filing by a father or mother. This is the lowest on the totem pole but they are looking to reduce the numbers within those categories.
Every year they issue a certain amount of visas in those categories. So we will see a cutting back on that moving forward.
As a result there will be a reduction in who can come to the United States on a family petition basis,” he said.