We can’t solve illegal immigration or the 21st-century skills gap by simply doling out visas

The U.S. government just started the second phase of its pilot program to send specialized batches of refugees to fill high-skilled jobs. The first phase of the pilot included a plan to bring a very small group of refugees to secure certain jobs and gain experience. Many of these individuals will then be candidates for a future high-skilled immigration lottery.

As I’ve discussed in The Federalist, the United States has long relied on a highly skilled immigration system that helps make our country the economic powerhouse it is. This needs to continue, and so the pilot allows immigrants a method to gain admission to the U.S. even if they don’t meet the high-skilled visa limit.

For instance, refugees who are accepted into the pilot program can enter through multiple channels. They can apply for refugee status, make an initial application to a religious affiliation, and then apply to a lottery for high-skilled immigrant visa. Individuals with these various channels have certain months to enter the United States, during which time they could qualify for a visa.

This can potentially benefit U.S. businesses, as they could bring in the talent they need to grow. For instance, granting a particular refugee to a company would allow the refugee to gain experience in a new field and could be useful for later entry into the U.S. as they pursue a job in the U.S.

Each program, however, has its own consequences. Should refugees who have certain processing times earn preference in the lottery, then that could deter people from applying for the more expensive refugee visa. Such a scenario could also deter some families who are eligible for refugee visas from applying.

In addition, it is worth pointing out that the diversity lottery for visas isn’t well respected. As members of the media like to explain, it is a way for activists to obstruct the admission of people from different countries, particularly Latin American and African countries. As such, it could be problematic to develop a program where only certain groups are given visas to enter the United States. This would result in a more homogenous immigration process.

Still, the upcoming pilot program and visa lottery for high-skilled immigrants is a step in the right direction. The U.S. and Canada have historically traded off people from countries that either benefit from the United States’ economic status or choose to leave to avoid oppression. Each country’s chance at making their citizenry grow is an important feature of the economic system.

The U.S. has continued to add new routes for refugees, and has become more selective. This is an encouraging pattern, as it means we are carefully pursuing the best methods to help people achieve the outcomes they seek.

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