Immigration experts are forecasting 2020 to be a year of significant changes in immigration laws and policies. Employers should be aware of these potential changes so that they can anticipate and adapt their business practices in response.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is proposing substantial fee increases for visa applications. These sharp hikes in fees primarily appear to affect companies that employ temporary foreign workers. For instance, USCIS is proposing a 22% increase in the fees for an H-1B specialty occupation visa. USCIS also intends to impose an additional $4,000 fee when some companies file for a visa extension, which often has been a necessity in light of USCIS approving H-1B visa applications for only weeks or months at a time.
The next significant changes impact the H-1B visa process. USCIS has made major policy changes aimed at prioritizing foreign workers who hold a master’s degree or higher. Employers also must use a new electronic registration system to register their prospective employees for the H-1B visa lottery, as well as pay a $10 registration fee per employee. If USCIS chooses their registrations in the lottery, only then will employers submit full H-1B visa applications.
Immigration advocates are eagerly awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Trump Administration’s authority to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The justices’ response to oral arguments in the case seems to signal that the high court will continue to back the Trump Administration, as has been the trend in recent decisions. The question then remains whether Congress will be able to save the program through legislation; although the House passed a bill last fall, the Senate has yet even to consider the proposal.
A federal court challenge and plans by the U.S. to gut the optional practical training (OPT) program also could profoundly impact the ability of colleges and universities to draw international students to study in the U.S. OPT currently allows foreign graduates of U.S. educational institutions to work in the U.S. for specific periods to gain additional training.
Finally, the Trump Administration plans to follow through on its promise to rescind the work authorization of some spouses of H-1B workers who are present under H-4 visas. The Administration is likely to make this change effective later this year.
Our goal is to assist you with your immigration concerns, whether family or business-based. We can evaluate your situation and develop a strategy that is most likely to be efficient and effective in your case. Regardless of the immigration matter that you are facing, the attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience, knowledge, and reputation that you want and need to advocate on your behalf. When results matter most, contact us at (512) 359-3362.