One approach to immigration reform, and who can immigrate

Recently, Senator Marco Rubio’s plan to reform immigration in the United States made headlines after an outline of it was published in The Wall Street Journal. Senator Rubio’s plan came after President Obama stated in his State of the Union Address that there needed to be nation-wide immigration reform and called on Congress to act. Senator Rubio proposed that the U.S. should expand the number of visas given to people who are considered highly skilled workers and who come to the U.S. to work.

Senator’s call for more workers

Senator Rubio posits that the U.S. needs to raise the percentage of immigrants who enter the country on the basis of employment to higher than the current 6.5 percent. He cited two ways of doing this. One way is to simply expand the number of visas given to highly skilled workers. Another way is to move visas from another category into the category for skilled workers. The first approach increases the number of immigrants being let into the U.S, while the second rearranges which types of immigrants are allowed into the U.S. by moving numbers from one category of immigrant to another.

A highly skilled worker is someone with extraordinary ability in certain professions or who is an investor or entrepreneur. People considered highly skilled are usually given priority to immigrate.

Someone who would like to immigrate to the United States and become a permanent resident as a worker, but is not considered a highly skilled worker, can do so if certification is provided from the U.S. Department of Labor stating that “no American workers will be displaced by the foreign workers”, and that there are not enough workers within the U.S. who are “able, qualified, willing and available in the geographic area where the immigrant is planning on being employed”.

Immigration issues in the U.S.

Other than to work, there are numerous different reasons why people are allowed to immigrate to the United States. In fact, in 2011, 1,062,040 people received green cards. Of those roughly 1.6 million, 43 percent, the highest category, of the people given green cards were spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens.

The next highest group of immigrants allowed in to the U.S. was 22 percent–spouses and kids of green card holders and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens. Refugees, who are people fleeing their home country for fear of serious harm, made up 11 percent of immigrants. There is an annual lottery that awards visas to people in countries that are underrepresented in the immigration system that accounted for 5 percent of people who immigrated. One percent of immigrants who are allowed to stay in the U.S. stayed because they are longtime residents and are in good standing with the law. Lastly, 1 percent of people who are allowed a visa are considered asylees who are already in the U.S. and who qualify as refugees.

An individual facing deportation, removal proceedings or who is seeking citizenship or a green card can benefit from a skilled immigration attorney.