New Model Legislation: A More Efficient Immigration System
Expanded premium processing can ease the border crisis and attract global talent at no taxpayer expense
New York, NY – From 2015 through 2023, the number of immigration-related applications pending review by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) nearly tripled, with over 9 million currently backlogged forms. This untimely processing of paperwork fuels the border crisis by incentivizing hopeful immigrants to pursue faster but illegal pathways; places millions of current immigrants at risk of losing legal status; and undermines America’s ability to attract high-skilled immigrants, who increasingly opt for destinations with faster and more dependable processing times.
In new model legislation from the Manhattan Institute, graduate fellow Daniel Di Martino identifies a simple change which he demonstrates can fully eliminate this immigration backlog within five years at no taxpayer cost: expanding premium processing. If immigrants are offered the option to pay a premium fee in return for expedited processing, USCIS can use this additional revenue to hire more employees, increasing capacity for reviewing all sorts of applications, including non-premium ones. Di Martino shows that expanding the use of premium processing, coupled with other changes such as eliminating redundant forms, stands to make America’s immigration system much more competitive with Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom when it comes to attracting highly-skilled job-creators from around the world.
Beyond explaining the need for greater efficiency and demonstrating how this reform fits the need, this model legislation also includes proposed amendment text—developed in tandem with the Manhattan Institute’s constitutional and legal scholars—that offers a clear blueprint for expanding premium processing through Congress.