Legalizing DREAMers, boosting border security, building the wall, and reforming diversity immigrant visas are the main components to establishing a deal in the federal government. Reforming the current diversity visa program is going to be a challenge because Congress want to avoid reducing the amount of green cards given out, but Democrats – particularly from Black and Hispanic Congressional Caucuses – are worried that changing the program reduces the number of immigrants coming from nations that the current system favors.

The good news is that there is a way to change the system and keep both sides happy; make the diversity visa a merit-based system but make it so it still favors immigrants from parts of the world that qualify for diversity visas.

Let’s take a look at the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program and why it is needed before going into more detail on this idea and explaining how it can satisfy both parties. This category allocates a total of 50,000 green cards on an annual basis to foreign nationals that are distributed through a lottery system. The cards are only given to applicants from low-admission countries with less than 50,000 immigrants entering the United States across the past five years. Lottery winners need to have at least a high school education or have been employed for two of the past five years in an occupation working in a field that requires two years or more of training and experience. Applicants need to pass a medical, crime, and national security check as well. Another rule is that no country can have more than 7% of the total lottery winners.

Republicans will be pleased by the first part of the reform idea by removing the diversity visa program and allocating 50,000 green cards to a merit-based system that allocates visas based on points. How these points work can be left to Congress, but using the system outlined by Senators David Perdue and Tom Cotton with their RAISE Act would mollify Democrats. Even so, Congress should change up the points system in the RAISE Act in order to prevent the likelihood of absurd outcomes. The current requirements say that no one country can receive more than 7% of green cards, and this should also be removed to make the system more merit-based. Green cards issued under this method would be given to applications that score the most points, assuming that they meet a minimum threshold and are eligible to receive the visa.

The other part of the reform should please Democrats because it ensures the cards are still given to applicants living in low-admission countries defined by the laws that currently govern the diversity visa. By replicating the current definition of low-admission countries, only foreign nationals from countries that sent over 50,000 immigrants to the US in the past five years would be able to receive a merit-based green card. This guarantees that – at first – immigrants under the merit-based system would come mostly from countries that currently quality for the diversity immigrant visa program.

Depending on how Congress establishes the points system, immigrants from these countries are likely going to be better educated and have a fluency in English, but their country of origin would likely be similar to the ones under the current diversity visa program.

Cancelling the current diversity immigrant visa program, shifting to a merit-based category, and only allowing applicants from those low-admission countries to apply for visas should satisfy both Democrats and Republicans who need some kind of middle-ground solution to end the stalemate

You will find more information about the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program HERE