Business immigration law changes in 2018 will have a major impact on how companies move forward in 2019. President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” initiative has also shaped the way that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services enforces laws.
Key changes that business owners must recognize are:
H-1B Visa Programs are in the Spotlight
An executive order by the President has led to federal agencies being required to propose changes to the H-1B program and conduct an extensive review of the program. Scrutiny has increased as a result, and there’s been a 45% increase in request for evidence.
The rise in requests will make it harder and more costly for businesses using the H-1B visa program.
Processing times have increased as a result, and premium processing of the visas has come under fire. As a result of all of these changes, it’s recommended that businesses prepare for visa applicants early on.
We're seeing a lot of employers having to wait for these key employees to enter their ranks. If a business is not prepared for these longer wait times, they will need to invest in hiring someone locally while the application process drags on.
Green Card Seekers Required to Attend In-Person Interviews
A law that went into effect in October 2017 started to impact businesses last year. The law requires all applicants of employment-based green cards to go through an in-person interview. There have been exemptions for many applicants over the last decade, but these exemptions have since expired.
This will impact 122,000 people each year, and that’s not including the 46,000 people that apply for refugee status.
Interview processes will also lead to longer processing times as a whole.
H-1B Visa Lottery Reshaping
The year came to an end with looming USCIS changes, which all look to change the way that the H-1B lottery is conducted. This is a good impact for businesses, and the main reason is that it will allow for highly-skilled workers to have a better chance of being selected in the lottery.
What is suggested is that the two-phase lottery be reversed.
This would mean that 65,000 advanced degree holders are selected in the first round of the lottery and 20,000 with advanced degrees to move into the second round. What all of this means is that the advanced degree holders would have a higher chance of selection in the college degree holder pool.
Lottery programs will also be moved online, and this would lead to the suspension of the program while the new system is being created.
A new, more efficient program is the ideal choice and will allow for a streamlined lottery process.
USCIS processing times have increased from 3 months to roughly 5+ months on average, and this means that employers need to start the application process as early as possible. The foreign workers that have filled specialized roles in the tech industry are in high demand, and employers must apply for visas early on if they hope to have a high chance of landing advanced degree talent.