Republican governors and congressmen have been promoting the concept of authorizing states to run their own immigration programs. These are generally designed for temporary work visas. The concept is in part based on Canada’s success with Province-based programs which lead to permanent residence approved by the national government, I have noted several times the proactive approach of Canada to immigration, where the inflow of permanent immigrants is as a rate of three times that of the U.S.
A key element in state or provincial immigration programs is how they bypass the immigration bureaucracy of the national governments.
Eric Holcomb, Republican governor of Indiana and Spencer Cox, Republican governor of Utah,called for the legal ability of state governments to sponsor immigrants (Washington Post):
“Indiana has about 220,000 open jobs right now and Utah has 107,000, according to the most recent federal data — more than 6 percent of all jobs in both states. With strong business and tax environments, we like our chances in the competition for job-seekers moving from other states. But they won’t be enough to fill all of those vacancies. We also need immigrants who are ready to work and help build strong communities.”
Canada has a visa program run by its provinces. The Canadian Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is an immigration program that allows Canadian provinces and territories to nominate individuals who are interested in immigrating to Canada and who possess the skills and experience needed to contribute to the economic growth of that province/territory. Under the PNP, each province or territory in Canada has its own unique set of eligibility criteria, selection process, and immigration streams that cater to specific industries and skill sets. These programs are designed to address the unique economic needs and opportunities of each region. Each province has its own set of eligibility requirements, which can include factors such as education, work experience, language proficiency, and adaptability.
Once a candidate meets the eligibility criteria, they may submit an application to the province or territory of their choice. If they are nominated by the province, they can then apply for Canadian permanent residence to the federal government.
Here is a 2017 evaluation of the Canadian program, giving it high marks,
Utah Congressman John Curtis introduced legislation in 2019 for a pilot state sponsor visa program for states to opt in and sponsor three-year visas. State would customize their visa allocations based on each state’s unique economy and needs. States could write compacts with other states to coordinate visas. States could use the visas to normalize unauthorized workers. Text of the bill here. Summary of the bill here.
The idea was promoted in The Atlantic in 2021.