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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.S. already has a special visa to attract foreign doctors to treat rural Americans — now a new report suggests expanding that to all skilled immigrants who'd be willing to settle in areas facing long-term demographic problems.

Why it matters: "[M]igration out of struggling places has become skill-biased," according to a new report released by the Economic Innovation Group.

  • "Someone with a professional or graduate degree is twice as likely to move states as a high school graduate."
  • "For every one college graduate that the fastest shrinking counties add, the fastest growing add two."
  • "By 2037, 67% of U.S. counties will contain fewer prime working age adults than they did in 1997."

The big picture: "At the national level, slower growth in America’s working-age population is a major reason that mainstream forecasters now expect the economy to expand around 2 percent each year rather than the 3 percent common in the second half of the 20th century," the NY Times' Neil Irwin notes.

The EIG's set of principles for a heartland visa:

  1. Communities must "opt in": Towns or counties that don't want to participate shouldn't be forced to join.
  2. Distressed areas first: The program "should be targeted to places confronting chronic population stagnation or loss."
  3. No work restrictions: Visa holders should be allowed to compete in the labor market, as long as they stay in a specific geographic area.
  4. This should be a path to a green card: "The prospect of permanent residency ... should provide an extremely strong incentive for compliance."
  5. Adding to, not replacing, existing skilled visas: "The scheme would therefore need to be accompanied by a commensurate increase to the green card cap."

The bottom line: This is somewhat of a moot point during the Trump presidency, which has sought to curb immigration levels. But as the U.S. faces further demographic decline, this is one option for lawmakers trying to help the areas hurting the most.

Go deeper

18 mins ago - World

Blinken to visit Ukraine as Russia invasion threat looms

Blinken (R) with President Zelensky. Photo: Efrem Lukatsky/Pool via Getty

Secretary of State Antony Tony Blinken will travel to Ukraine on Tuesday as the country faces an ongoing threat of Russian invasion.

Driving the news: Blinken will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, as well as officials at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv to discuss contingency planning. He'll then travel to Berlin to meet German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and attend a meeting of the "Transatlantic Quad" — France, Germany, the U.K. and U.S.

Updated 24 mins ago - World

At least 3 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least three people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Tuesday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. Officials in Tonga confirmed three deaths in the country's first official statement since the crisis began.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Charted: GOP surged as Biden slumped

Expand chart
Reproduced from Gallup. (Independents were asked their party leaning.) Chart: Axios Visuals

Gallup polling found a huge shift in party preference over the course of 2021, from a 9-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter to a 5-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter.

Why it matters: It's the biggest swing in one calendar year for Gallup's 30 years of tracking.