During the fiscal year 2017, there were 748,746 people granted permanent residence via family-sponsored immigration programs. Family migration is the most common way that people get green cards in Tennessee and across the country, but proposed changes might alter the focus of immigration policy, which has been based in employment and family reunification.

The Trump administration announced a proposal to grant permanent residency based more on education, age and language requirements. Previously, the administration proposed rules that would have denied entry to people who were deemed likely to make use of public assistance programs like food stamps and Medicaid.

Family migration programs account for two-thirds of the green cards issued each year. Under the later Trump proposal, that share could drop to around one-third. Foreign workers and their families were given 137,855 employment-based green cards during the 2017 fiscal year. The Trump proposal would increase the number of permanent residencies granted based on employment. It would also eliminate the EB-5 green card program, through which foreign investors can gain permanent residency.

During the 2017 fiscal year, 179,049 foreign workers were granted H1-B visas. This is the nation’s largest visa program for temporary visas and accounted for 23% of the total number of temporary visas. Under the Trump administration, the denial rate for H1-B visas has increased, and more of the visas have gone to immigrants who had at least a master’s degree.

Individuals in Tennessee who have questions about the impact of policy on the immigration process might want to speak with a lawyer. A professional with experience in immigration law might be able to draft and file legal documents to move the person through the process toward permanent residency. A lawyer may also be able to answer questions about the different visa requirements or communicate with officials on the client’s behalf.