The Trump administration plans to establish far-reaching immigration regulations that could have a major impact on international students, employers, L-1 and H-1B visa holders, asylum seekers, and EB-5 investors. Details about the plans are available to the public in the Unified Agenda for the Department of Homeland Security.
How New Regulations Could Impact H-1B Visas
Under the Trump administration, there has already been an increase in denial rates for H-1B petitions. The proposed changes would present even more challenges for foreign nationals and employers. Under the new rule, the definition of “specialty occupation” would be revised to “focus on obtaining the best and brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program.” The definitions of “employment” and “employer-employee relationship” would also be revised to strengthen worker protections. The Department of Homeland Security would propose additional requirements to ensure appropriate wages are paid to H-1B visa holders.
The rule may also defend the administration against lawsuits from organizations arguing that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act by avoiding the rulemaking process when performing certain actions on H-1B petitions.
New Rule for L-1 Visas
The USCIS also plans to add further restrictions to the L-1 visa, even though the Trump administration has already made it difficult for L-1 visa applicants to receive approval at American consulates in India and China when moving employees to the United States. Denial rates are extraordinarily high for L-1B petitions, which are used for employees who have what is considered “specialized knowledge.”
Rules for International Students, Unlawful Presence, and OPT
The Trump administration’s new regulations are likely to keep international students from seeking education in the U.S. The administration plans to continue to focus on Optional Practical Training. The OPT program enables international students to work for a year after graduating. Graduates in technology, math (STEM), engineering, and science fields are allowed an additional 24 months.
USCIS also plans to propose another rule, “Enhancing the Integrity of the Unlawful Presence Inadmissibility Provisions,” which is likely a response to the U.S. District Court blocking USCIS policy memos in 2018 that could bar international students unknowingly violating their immigration status from entering the U.S. for 10 years.