Reforming the US Immigration System to Promote Growth

34 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2017

Date Written: October 31, 2017


To better serve America’s economic needs in the 21st century, immigration reform should welcome a significantly larger number of foreign-born workers in order to harness global talent flows. Specifically, this paper recommends (1) a large increase in permanent immigrant visas for high-skilled (including STEM) workers who are employed by or receive an offer of employment from a US-based company, (2) a significant expansion of temporary visa programs for both high- and low-skilled workers to meet the evolving demands of the US labor market and economy, (3) a visa allocation system that relies primarily on employer demand to inform needs, and (4) a fee-based temporary visa system to regulate demand while generating additional revenue. These immigration reforms would boost US economic growth, raise the average productivity of US workers, create more job opportunities for native-born Americans, expand America’s high-technology sectors, generate net revenue, and extend the solvency of federal retirement programs.

Keywords: Immigration Reform, Visa Reform, H-1B, Labor Supply, Civilian Labor Force, Illegal, Permanent Legal Residents, Green Cards, Merit-Based, Economic Growth, Low-Skilled, High-Skilled, STEM, Global Talent Flows, Family Reunification

JEL Classification: F22, F66, J61, J21, J24, K37

Suggested Citation

Griswold, Daniel T., Reforming the US Immigration System to Promote Growth (October 31, 2017). Mercatus Research Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Daniel T. Griswold (Contact Author)

Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

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