2016 Immigration Policy: Year in Review

2017 is here, and most media and public attention are squarely focused on the expected changes in immigration policy to come with the inauguration of the president-elect next month. However, although not an especially momentous year for immigration reform, several noteworthy changes in US immigration have occurred over the last 12 months.

  • Known Employer Pilot Program. This program was launched by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) early in the year and was intended to minimize costs and paperwork associated with certain employment-based visa categories. The pilot called for nine employers across a variety of industries to be pre-approved to petition for foreign workers, eliminating the need to submit company information for each individual applicant.
  • Provisional Waiver Process Expansion. In 2013, the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver process was introduced for certain family members of US citizens who are not eligible to remain in the US during the processing period for their adjustment of status. This waiver option was intended to promote family unity and alleviate the undue burden placed on family members during this period of separation. As of August 29, 2016, this provisional waiver became available to immediate family members of legal permanent residents, in addition to US citizens.
  • Proposed International Entrepreneur Rule. A new rule proposed by USCIS would allow foreign entrepreneurs to enter the country on a three-year probationary basis, provided they have a significant ownership interest in a US-based startup opened within three years. Unlike the EB-5 visa which requires a substantial investment on the part of the foreign applicant, this rule would require the applicant to demonstrate a vested financial interest on the part of qualified US investors, totaling $345,000 at minimum. A final ruling has not yet been issued and, as such, this proposed rule has not yet taken effect.
  • Form I-9 Revision. To simplify both preparation and processing of the Employment Eligibility Verification, a revised version of the Form I-9 was issued by USCIS this fall. The revised form is more tech-compatible and is intended to be easier to both read and complete. Additionally, the instructions for completion were separated from the form, and dedicated space was provided for additional comments. USCIS requires that this form be used exclusively on or before January 22, 2017.

If you would like to learn more about these and other recent changes in US immigration policy, and how these changes might impact your circumstances, consult with an experienced immigration attorney. At Barst Mukamal & Kleiner, LLP, we stay up-to-date on the latest in immigration trends and policy changes. For representation from an experienced lawyer with an intimate understanding of current trends and changes in immigration law, schedule a consultation with BMKLLP today.