The Trump Administration is proposing a far-reaching set of new immigration rules that will significantly affect B-1, B-2, L-1, H-1B, and H-4 visa holders as well as employers, international students, and asylum seekers.
Some of the recommended changes are spelled out in the “Unified Regulatory Agenda” for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), released in November 2019.
If you need immigration advice or if you need help understanding how these proposed changes may affect you, your family, or your employees, an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can answer your questions and – if necessary – take legal action on your behalf.
The new proposals would also make changes to the EB-5 Investor Visa program, to asylum and DOS filing fees, and to filings for adjustment of status. If you’ll keep reading, you’ll learn what to expect if the proposed new immigration rules take effect.
According to the Unified Regulatory Agenda, DHS is proposing new regulations that will “revise the definition of specialty occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program.”
DHS also wants to redefine “employment” and “employer-employee relationships” to give U.S. workers and their wages more protection. Additionally, DHS wants new requirements to ensure that H1-B visa holders receive “appropriate” wages.
It’s likely that any redefinition of the “employer-employee relationship” will make it harder for staffing and outsourcing companies to place H-1B workers with third-party employers.
Revising the definition of a “specialty occupation” probably means that computer programming and certain other occupations may no longer be deemed specialty occupations that require a four-year degree. The new rules may also compel employers to pay higher wages to H-1B employees.
Also in 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) intends to rescind a 2015 regulation that extended employment eligibility to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status.
The changes that are proposed for L-1 visas are similar to the changes that are proposed for H-1B visas.
According to the Unified Regulatory Agenda, in 2020, DHS will propose a revision to the definition of “specialized” knowledge, “clarify the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship, and ensure employers pay appropriate wages to L-1 visa holders.”
Tightening the definition of what counts as “specialized knowledge” in the L-1 category is expected to make it tougher for outsourcing companies to sponsor workers for L-1 visas.
STATE DEPARTMENT FILING FEE INCREASES
In December 2019, the U.S. Department of State is substantially increasing the cost of consular filing fees, which includes nonimmigrant and immigrant visa application fees.
RESTRICTIONS ON F-1 STUDENTS AND OPT
New enrollments of international students at U.S. universities dropped more than 10% from 2015-16 through 2018-2019 – and the proposed new regulations are not likely to encourage more international students to study in the United States.
ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is proposing to restrict the amount of time that a foreign-born student can study in the U.S. ICE is also seeking to restrict 12-month optional practical training (OPT), STEM OPT extensions, and curricular practical training (CPT).
Several of the proposed new regulations would restrict the ability of persons who are fleeing from persecution in their home countries to be granted asylum status in the United States.
Currently, asylum seekers wait six months from the date they file for asylum to apply for a work permit. Under the new proposal, asylum seekers must wait a year after requesting asylum to seek a work permit, and those crossing the border without documentation would be barred entirely.
USCIS is proposing substantial changes to the EB-5 Investor Visa category, including a substantial increase in the minimum required investment amount (which is currently $500,000).
The proposed new minimum investment amounts will be $900,000 for Targeted Employment Area (TEA) projects and $1.8 million for non-TEA projects.
USCIS has also proposed changes to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center Program. One proposal would change the way that EB-5 Regional Centers are designated.
ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS REGULATIONS
DHS is proposing to eliminate the concurrent filing of visa petitions and Form I-485 (“Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”) for all applicants seeking an immigrant visa in a preference category.
This means that an I-130 (“Petition for Alien Relative”) or an I-140 (“Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker”) application would have to be approved before the applicant could file for an adjustment of status.
This proposal could have a substantial negative impact on employment-based green card applicants. For example, it will delay the filing of applications for adjustment-based employment authorizations.
B-1 AND B-2 REGULATIONS
DHS and the State Department are also proposing a rule to ensure rigorous implementation of the B-1/B-2 business or tourist visitor visa classification. The proposed regulation is expected to change current policy by restricting permissible business visitor activities.
These restrictions may include eliminating policies that let B-1 visitors work in the U.S. in limited circumstances, such as the use of the B-1 in lieu of the H-1B classification.
WHAT DO THESE PROPOSED CHANGES MEAN FOR YOU?
Nothing in the Trump Administration’s many proposals to change immigration regulations will make it easier for foreign-born persons to work, study, or live in the United States. Many immigrants are understandably suffering confusion, uncertainty, and in some cases, fear.
In fact, if all of the Trump Administration’s immigration proposals take effect, it will substantially reduce immigration into the U.S. at a time of low unemployment – when U.S. employers desperately need more workers to fill the jobs being created.
HOW TO OBTAIN SOUND IMMIGRATION ADVICE
If you are an immigrant who is already in the U.S., if you want to enter the U.S., or if you are a U.S.-based employer who hires immigrants, you can trust the advice of an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney who routinely handles all aspects of immigration law.
In fact, if you or someone you love is struggling with any legal matter related to immigration, you should meet promptly with an immigration attorney who can examine your personal situation and work on your behalf to resolve the matter effectively.
As new immigration rules are proposed, amended, rejected, or implemented, the fates of thousands of people will remain in the balance. The right immigration lawyer can provide the legal advice and services that immigrants, their employers, and their families will need.