It can be argued that in the past, a person who wished to immigrate to the United States and live in the Los Angeles area might have had an easier chance of doing so if they had family living in the country compared to someone who had no family in the U.S., but who was a highly skilled worker. This is because experts say that the U.S. tended to give preference to those with family ties.

This may all change with the new immigration bill. One of the provisions in the bill calls for a merit-based visa program that would give potential immigrants points based on different criteria such family, education, age, employment and country of origin. Those who have the most points will be awarded green cards.

The bill aims at increasing the number of immigrants allowed into the U.S. each year over the course of 15 years. The merit-based visa program would put applicants in one of two categories: those that are blue-collar workers and those that are white-collar workers. The number of green cards given out would be equal for each group.

Proponents of the bill say that it would allow the country to change the parameters of the merit-based system according to the job-openings that need to be filled in the country. For example, if there were a shortage of medical personnel, the system could be adjusted to give people in that profession more visas while lessening the number of visas in another category.

Those who support the bill say that it will help to reduce and eventually get rid of the backlog of visa applications.

Source: Las Vegas Sun, “Senate’s immigration bill has a first for US: merit-based worker visas,” Tovin Lapan, July 18, 2013