Immigration, Points and Canada – Would a Canadian-like System work in the US?

Forbes recently published an excellent article looking at efforts to reform the US Immigration system and make it more like the Canadian system. For those who are not familiar with the Canadian system, they have a point-based system designed to bring in those with skills needed in Canada. In addition, Canada has steadily been INCREASING the number of immigrants it allows in, from 405,000 this year to 500,000 in 2025. They project that 100% of their labor force growth in Canada has come from Immigration.

In the US, Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arizona, proposed changing the US System into a point-based system as well. There are several issues with his proposal, however.

First, unlike Canada, we have a divided Executive and Legislative branch. Why is this important? Because, any changes to such a point system would require the Legislative branch to change the law, which is a slow and cumbersome process. While it is possible to make the system adaptable by the Executive branch, it is hard to imagine that either the Democrats or Republicans would agree to this. Unfortunately, both sides would be afraid that if the other side controlled the Executive branch, they would use such flexibility to either limit immigration or expand immigration. In Canada, having a parliamentarian system, they can affect changes to the point system quite quickly in order to reflect what is happening in Canada and the world. According to the article:

While Canada’s structure allows for relatively quick adjustments in point criteria, that is unlikely to happen in the United States. Instead, Congress would pass a law and set qualifications that might not change for decades. Ceding greater authority to an immigration bureaucracy would be unlikely to work, since it can take many years for a federal agency to enact a regulation and enact changes. 

In Canada, (permanent) immigrants for employers often first work for Canadian employers on temporary visas, similar to the U.S. transition from H-1B status to an employment-based green card. The difference is that Canada awards points for age, language, schooling and work experience in Canada and grants permanent residence each year to those who achieve sufficient points. The system has evolved and been adjusted so that employers can retain highly skilled employees. Another key feature: Canada allows provinces to select immigrants based on unique regional needs, something U.S. point system advocates generally have not favored.

Stuart Anderson, Forbes Magazine

Secondly, the Act proposed by Senator Cotton would also eliminate Family-based immigration, thereby lowering immigration overall. This lowering of immigration would not, as Senator Cotton has stated, spur economic growth. It would, in fact, do the opposite.

Cotton and Purdue made what economists would consider a contradictory argument for their bill. The senators argued their legislation would “spur economic growth” while “reducing overall immigration by half.” However, reducing immigration would lead to lower economic growth, not “spur” it. Joel Prakken, senior managing director and co-founder of Macroeconomic Advisers, estimated a 50% reduction in legal immigration would lead U.S. economic growth to decline by 12.5% from its projected levels.

Stuart Anderson, Forbes Magazine

As reported in previous blog posts, this is supported by multiple studies as well. Immigration is one of the driving factors of our economy, and growing our labor pool is one sure way of growing our economy overall.

Overall, it would be ill-advised for the US to move towards such a system, as our government is not as quick and flexible in changing laws as the system in Canada. In addition, the act pushed by Senator Cotton would hurt our economy, which is already in pain. The Senator would be better off listening to economists and working on ways to improve our current system and increase immigration so that we can help our economy grow. Increasing the number of employment-based green cards and H-1B visas would be one way to affect such a change.

For the full article, please go to: This Link

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.