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What might a merit-based immigration system look like?

Many immigrants across Illinois, Wisconsin and the rest of the nation are seeking further clarification following President Donald Trump’s recent hints at plans to move the United States toward a merit-based immigration system. Per Money.CNN.com, such a system would navigate the country away from its current, family-based immigration system and transition it into one that favors those with particularly strong skills or educational backgrounds.

The current system, in place since 1952, replaced an earlier merit-based system that gave preference to those who scored well on a literacy test. Proponents for transitioning the current system into a more merit-based approach believe the move would sharply reduce the number of immigrants relying on public assistance by ensuring only those with high employability are able to gain entry. Supporters also believe such a transition would position the United States more competitively in the global marketplace and allow the nation to maximize the benefits of immigration while minimizing the drawbacks.

Opponents to taking a merit-based approach to the country’s immigration system argue that it would hinder the nation’s ability to fill low-skilled worker jobs, something many companies already struggle to do. Others believe conservative claims about the number of immigrants receiving public assistance are considerably overinflated, while others yet feel the transition unfairly caters to immigrants with money.

Though the president has not offered specific details about his plans for what a merit-based system might look like, some feel it might be reminiscent of those in place in Canada and Australia, both of which tend to favor those with higher levels of education. Both the Canadian and Australian systems also have options for lower-skilled workers looking to enter the country, although those workers generally must have existing job offers in place in order to relocate. 

This information about immigrating to the United States is meant to be informative in nature, but it is not meant to be taken as legal advice. 

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