WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congressman Tom Rice (SC-07) today introduced the Immigration for a Competitive America Act of 2016, H.R. 5398, legislation that would allow America to be more globally competitive by fixing its flawed immigration system.

Unlike most countries, the United States awards the majority of admissions based on family relationships rather than skills and education. According to the Congressional Research Service, 65 percent of the more than one million immigrants admitted into the United States annually are selected based on family ties, while only 16 percent are selected because of their education and skills. To make America level with other developed nations, H.R. 5398 cuts family-based visas in half while increasing employment-based visas by 80 percent. 

“Our current immigration system is uncompetitive and is in desperate need of reform,” said Rice.  “Unlike most industrialized countries in the world, the United States awards the majority of admissions based on family relationships rather than skills and education.  As a result, our country is far less competitive globally.

“An immigration policy geared toward admitting more skilled immigrants rather than family-sponsored candidates will generate growth, economic opportunity and new jobs that America needs. H.R. 5398 makes critical changes to our immigration system that will ultimately restore America’s competitiveness with international competitors,” Rice concluded.

In addition to easing skilled-based immigration, Congressman Rice’s legislation establishes a mandatory E-verify system, denies certain tax credits for individuals not legally authorized to work in the United States, and redirects U.S. foreign aid that goes to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to be used instead to protect our borders.

H.R. 5398 also expands guest-worker visas for temporary non-agricultural workers and streamlines the guest agricultural worker program.  In light of recent terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, Congressman Rice’s legislation prohibits any increases in visas for United States admission until the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department can determine that all immigrants are properly screened.  Furthermore, this legislation requires authorities to take a closer look at the potential security risks within our immigration system and report to Congress with recommendations.