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Why We Need State-Based Immigration Visas

November 20, 2019 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

Reforming the immigration visa system is crucial for the future of the United States. Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah), backed by Utah’s Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, just introduced a bill to create a state-based visa system. Based on an earlier version introduced by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) in 2017, Curtis’ bill adopts a major component of the Canadian immigration system: visas sponsored by individual states, rather than the federal government.


Under the legislation, the federal government maintains control over admissions, security checks and other necessary criteria while the state governments gain power to select individual migrants and regulate their activity within the state. Each state would get an average of 10,000 visas a year, 5,000 guaranteed for each state and an additional number assigned based on population.

Under this bill, states could create visas that don’t exist under the federal system. California might create a state visa for high-tech entrepreneurs, Wisconsin would create one for dairy workers, and Utah could attract tourism entrepreneurs. Texas may want oil-rig workers and Michigan could attract real-estate developers for Detroit.



No federal visa currently exists for those types of workers, entrepreneurs and investors; the state-based visa bill would allow states to create them or others we haven’t even considered. There could be hundreds of different economic visas adapted to local economies rather than just a handful of temporary federal visas for some occupations.

Under the proposal, how states decide whom to sponsor for a visa is left entirely up to them, but they would likely seek input from stakeholders such as labor unions, businesses, community groups, city governments, farmers and others. States would decide how long the visa lasts, how often it would be renewed, and these visas wouldn’t subtract from the number of visas available through the federal immigration system.

Curtis said that “neighboring states share commonalities that don’t end at lines on a map.” The state-based visa bill explicitly allows states to sign compacts with each other to share state-sponsored migrants. For example, the western states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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