Before the new year, the Trump administration issued a long list of regulatory priorities, many of which involve significant changes to immigration policy.
The details of each proposed regulation change or elimination remain under wraps until published in the Federal Register. Once published in the Federal Register, each of the proposed regulatory changes must go through a public notice and comment period before a final rule goes into effect.
Most of the regulatory changes are being made under President Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order issued last April. That order prioritizes hiring U.S. workers, which means that programs including employment-based visas, work authorization for certain visa holders, and training programs for foreign students face changes.
Other regulatory changes will include raising processing fees, implementing more stringent vetting and enforcement processes, and rescinding or curtailing a number of regulations implemented during the Obama administration.
Below is a list of proposed changes that will have the biggest impact on our clients.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), plans to propose a host of regulatory changes to the H-1B visa process and requirements. Among them:
- Requiring all companies planning to submit H-1B petitions to pre-register for the H-1B lottery.
- Giving priority to the most highly skilled and also the highest paid H-1B candidates.
- Raising the minimum standard of what constitutes a “specialty occupation.”
- Revising employment requirements and employer-employee relationship definitions “to protect U.S. worker and wages.”
- Adding requirements to ensure that employers pay high wages to H-1B workers.
Last month, a federal court compelled the Trump administration to begin accepting petitions for entrepreneur parole under the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) put into place by the Obama administration. Under the rule, international entrepreneurs would be considered for a temporary stay—or parole—in the U.S. if they can show their U.S.-based startup will foster innovation and job growth.
However, DHS aims to rescind entrepreneur parole. According to the USCIS website, DHS will soon publish a notice to eliminate the IER.
DHS will propose eliminating the regulation that allows work permits to the dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders. In 2015, the Obama administration finalized a regulation allowing spouses on H-4 visas to apply for work permits.
Last year, DHS published its proposed regulatory changes to the EB-5 immigrant investor program and accepted comments. The final regulation may come as early as February. Check out my previous blog for the proposed changes and more information about the latest extension to EB-5.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may issue a proposed rule to change the practical training programs for foreign students on F-1 visas. Revisions may include:
- Additional requirements for employers offering training programs to foreign students.
- Eliminating or reducing the 24-month extension for the STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics degree) Optional Practical Training program put into place during the Obama years.
Much of the Trump administration’s regulatory agenda will greatly affect the ability of companies, founders, employees, families, and students to live and work or study in the U.S.
The Alcorn Immigration Law team will closely monitor these immigration policy developments. Contact us for a consultation to determine the best path forward for you, your company, your employees, or your family.