The RAISE Act May Benefit Indians After All

The proposed Act of Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) backed by the Trump administration has been gaining a lot of global ire ever since it was suggested and supported by President Trump. However, it seems like it may not have such a detrimental effect on the Indian community if not, in fact prove to be beneficial to the Indian diaspora migrating to the US.

According to the RAISE Act, permanent residency will now be given on a merit-based system instead of the lottery system or through family members already having US citizenship. This merit system will consider high “points” for factors like English language proficiency, income levels, age and educational and professional qualifications before evaluating eligibility for a Green Card which will in turn, provide permanent residency, work authorization, and fast track to US citizenship. According to a Pew Research, Indian Americans are the most highly educated racial group in the U.S with nearly 70% of them aged 25 and older having college degrees. Considering that Indian-born residents are approximately three times more likely to have a college degree in the general population and, on average have higher income levels of any immigrant group in the country, these changes may not necessarily have a significant negative impact on the Indian diaspora who desire to live and work in the U.S.

Currently the number of Green Cards allotted to people from any one country is capped at 7%. Statistics from the Center for Global Development and the University of Michigan show that inspite of this, the impact of intellectual exchange between the two countries has been huge. For instance, the combined IT input from both India and the United States has risen by 0.45% and seen a consistent growth in the recent years. Various visa programs especially the H1B work visa has contributed to a 0.36% increase in incomes for both countries. This amounts to nearly 17.3 billion in combined income!

The tangible advantages can be seen in both US and India. While migrating Indians have boosted India’s own information technology industry by many fold and contributed to an ever-expanding skilled workforce back home, the US employees are wealthier by about $431 million, thanks to the existing US visa programs. The RAISE Act only seems to reaffirm the advantages it will bring to the non-resident Indian in the US given that most of the Indian immigrants already qualify for the “points” with their elite qualifications and existing presence in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (S.T.E.M) fields. Only time will tell what the changes will bring to the global immigrant population if and when the Act gets the Senate’s approval.