Historically, as the national elections drew close the current United States president would refrain from making any drastic policy changes. Policies remain untouched until the president either returns into office or the opposing presidential candidate takes on the new role. Regardless of the nearing elections, President Trump has continuously made drastic reforms on immigration policy targeting the H1-B visa program. Although these changes have been made based on curving the declining U.S. unemployment rate, they undoubtedly reduce the number of skilled workers entering the U.S. and subsequently the number of foreign nationals entering the country.
Pursuant to the Proclamation made by President Trump on June 22, for the suspension of entry of immigrants who present a risk to the United States labor market. The Trump administration imposed a temporary ban on the entry of foreign nationals until 31 December 2020. The ban subsequently affected foreign nationals applying for entry and employment into the U.S. through most of the immigrant and non-immigrant visas, and especially those reliant on the H1-B and L-1 visas. Under the Proclamation, there would be no application or issuance of new H1-B and L-1 visas until the proclamation termination date.
The H1-B visa is predominantly used by Indian Nationalities seeking work from Fortune 500 firms hiring foreign nationals for speciality occupations. While the visa allows for foreign nationals to lawfully enter and work in the U.S., the firms use the visa to hire or transfer high skilled foreign nationals at a lower rate than they would a U.S. citizen. Therefore, the non-issuance of H1-B visas has had the most negative impact on the Fortune 500 firms that rely on the employment of high skilled foreign nationals.
With less than a week from the national elections, President Trump has issued further reforms for the restrictions and requirements to obtain the H1-B visa. The proposed changes seek to reduce the intake of foreign nationals by firstly redefining the meaning of speciality occupation. This means that firms must hire employees or foreign nationals that hold a degree for that specific job they are applying for. This will limit the recruitment of foreign nationals that have the necessary experience but lack in direct qualification for the job. President Trump also increased the salary threshold for foreign nationals seeking employment via the H1-B visa to stop businesses undercutting U.S.-level salaries. Furthermore, foreign nationals recruited by information technology (IT) placement firms will be limited to a stay of 12 months in the U.S. as opposed to the 6 years the H1-B visa allows.
The need for foreign nationals in the U.S. has been a constant focus for political debate, and statistics have indicated the vital contribution that foreign nationals inject into the U.S. economy. However, it is evident that the rippling effects of the global Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic has affected the U.S. labor market and economy. The reforms to modify the H1-B visa program may be a positive strategic move for the U.S. to ensure that their citizens obtain employment. Even though the country will need an injection of foreign nationals, there are alternative programs to which they can consider.
The EB-5 immigrant investor program requires for foreign nationals to invest $900,000 into a U.S. approved commercial enterprise. In return the investor will receive a green card for themselves and their immediate family members (spouse and children under the age of 21 years). Once investors obtain their U.S. green cards they will be able to legally work and reside in the U.S. Ultimately this program provides high skilled foreign nationals with the best solution to legally work and reside in the U.S.
In usual circumstances foreign nationals who could not apply for the H1-B visa would default to the L-1 visa however, the temporary ban prevents this from occurring and leaves foreign nationals with very few options. It is evident that the Trump administration will continue making drastic changes to the U.S. immigration policies, and although he might not return into office it may take a while for Joe Biden to reverse the policy changes already in place. The EB-5 immigrant investor program has remained consistently unaffected by the policy changes, and because it provides direct stimulation to both the U.S. economy and Labor market, it can be assumed that it will remain unaffected.
Our team of U.S. licensed lawyers have years of experience in helping individuals and families apply for U.S. residency via the EB-5 program. If you are ready to start your migration journey with The American Legal Center of Dubai, contact us today for more information.