October 23, 2017

Why a New Merit or Point Based Immigration System in the US Would Favor International Teachers

As part of a new effort to overhaul its immigration system, the United States is now considering a transition to a new merit-based or point-based immigration system, similar to the one used by Canada and Australia. The move, announced by President Donald Trump, is a way to encourage the “best and the brightest” from around the world to come to America. The good news is that for foreign teachers who are proficient in English and are working in America, this new merit-based immigration system has the potential to be extremely advantageous.

First and foremost, the focus on merit gives foreign-born teachers an important advantage over others seeking immigration to the United States. The reason, quite simply, is that the United States is contemplating using a new points-based system that rewards visa seekers according to several key criteria:

• Age
• English proficiency
• Education level
• Salary and employment offer

For each of these factors, candidates will receive a certain score. These scores would correspond to how “desirable” the candidate is from the perspective of being able to add value to American society. The higher the final overall score, the better. To apply for a work visa in the U.S, a candidate would need to have at least 30 points.

The focus on these factors – all of which correlate very highly to the typical profile of international teachers applying to work in the United States – would be highly advantageous. In fact, it’s possible that an applicant who is highly proficient in English, and having a foreign professional degree, would have little or no trouble qualifying.

One big reason is English proficiency, which is a particularly important component. Under the new system, candidates would be required to take a standardized English test, and would then receive a total score based on how they performed on the test. Candidates who score in at least the 60th percentile or higher would receive points, depending on the final score. Assuming a score in the 80th percentile, that would be worth 10 points – fully one-third of the total required to apply.

In terms of education level, candidates could pick up an additional 5 points simply for having a foreign bachelor’s degree. Having a foreign professional degree or a doctoral degree would be worth 10 points, while having a U.S. advanced degree would be worth 13.

An employment offer with a school in the United States would also play a huge role in simplifying the immigration process. Since the average salary for a teaching position in the United States is higher than the median household income in the country, foreign candidates who are being trained for full-time teacher jobs would also receive additional points for having relatively high-paying job offers when they arrive.

Of course, the big question mark is whether the Trump administration will be able to push through this transition to a merit-based immigration system as it is currently envisioned. The signs are very positive right now that such a change in the way the U.S. views immigration would be extremely favorable to international teachers coming to the country on employment offers.

Disclaimer: Consult your lawyer for any immigration related questions. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency of the U.S.

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