Donald Trump has outlined plans for a new "merit-based" US immigration system.
It is designed to favour younger, better educated, English-speaking workers through a points-based system.
However, Democrats quickly dismissed the plan as "dead on arrival".
Speaking at the White House, President Trump proposed moving away from the current system that favours applicants with family ties to the US.
He said: "The White House plan makes no change to the number of green cards allocated each year. But instead of admitting people through random chance, we will establish simple, universal criteria for admission to the United States.
"No matter where in the world you’re born, no matter who your relatives are, if you want to become an American citizen, it will be clear exactly what standard we ask you to achieve."
The US President claimed immigrants "must be financially self-sufficient" to protect benefits for US citizens.
He suggested a requirement to learn English and pass a civics examine would "promote integration, assimilation, and national unity".
President Trump also criticised the current immigration rules, saying they "allow foreign workers to substitute for Americans seeking entry-level jobs".
'Not remotely serious'
Democrats swiftly condemned the White House plan, with House speaker Nancy Pelosi saying it was not "remotely serious".
She argued: “The White House has repackaged the worst of its past failed immigration plans: greenlighting the Administration’s barbaric family detention policies, reviving the President’s ineffective and wasteful wall, completely abandoning our patriotic and determined Dreamers and gutting our asylum and refugee protections, which the evangelical community has called the ‘crown jewel of American humanitarianism'.
"To say that this plan’s application criteria are ‘merit-based’ is the height of condescension."
Earlier, President Trump said if Democrats reject the plan he'd aim to get it approved after next year's elections.
That would depend on Trump being re-elected, as well as Republicans keeping control of the Senate while retaking the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.