By Beau Russell, Attorney, Thomas Martin Law
If one were closely following then-candidate-Trump`s immigration rhetoric during the 2016 presidential election campaign, and frankly it was hard to miss, it should not be a surprise that these hardline stances are now manifesting in to real, identifiable actions and policies. Therefore, any business that currently employs foreign workers in the U.S. or is planning to sponsor foreign workers in the U.S., should be aware of the new normal of the U.S. immigration landscape. From top to bottom, companies will find themselves investing more resources in the immigration process. From new applications to applying at a U. S. Embassy/Consulate with a petition already approved by the USCIS, to enforcement and control of current visa holding workers, the U.S. government is clamping down on foreign workers. It is now more important than ever for businesses to appreciate this new landscape and prepare accordingly.
In regard to new opportunities, it is clear that the administration has no interest in continuing or starting any programs that expand the ability for businesses to hire foreign workers in the U.S., including for entrepreneurs. For example, the administration has delayed the implementation of, and is likely to terminate, an Obama created program which would have allowed foreign entrepreneurs who, according to the USCIS, “demonstrate that their stay would provide a significant public benefit through the potential for rapid business growth and job creation” to live and work in the U.S. Moreover, it is apparent that the administration has decided to terminate the protection for young immigrants who were brought to the United States as young children. This shows the administration’s lack of interest in helping foreign born individuals obtain the ability to work. Moreover, this calls for businesses to be creative with the immigration tools that are available.
With new applications for existing visas types, however, there has been an increase in requests for further evidence and denials for what were once considered strong cases. Organizations with strong business expansion plans, infused with capital and looking to hire strong employees are still scrutinized heavily and in some cases, denied. Even those who have approved petitions from the USCIS are being refused visas at U. S. Embassies/Consulates under the new “extreme vetting” standards. For existing visa holders, there has been an increase in work-site visits and further scrutinizing of documents when it comes time to renewals of work permissions.
The takeaway here should not be one of deterrence but of resolve. The lure of the rapidly expanding and rushing U.S. market should be more than enough incentive to overcome these obstacles. Businesses should be prepared to jump in with both feet in their planned expansions and foreign hiring. Business plans must be well drafted and well supported with letters of interest and capital, budgets must be concise, employee assignments must be chosen wisely and risks must be mitigated. Further, Embassy interviews must not be taken lightly, but rather be prepared for and rehearsed. Lastly, when an employee is installed, all forms and documentation must be in place and the business plan must, generally, be followed as closely as possible.
In the end, by seeking out the right help, obtaining good advice and taking the above proper precautions, this new landscape can be navigated.
Beau Russell is a U.S. Immigration attorney licensed in California and located in the Copenhagen Area. For the past several years in California and Denmark, he has helped hundreds of individuals solve their U.S. Immigration issues. Beau joined THOMAS MARTIN in 2015 and works from our Copenhagen Offices. His specialty is assisting businesses and families obtain non-immigrant/temporary visa and permanent/immigration visas (“green cards”) to the U.S.