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Federal Immigration Policy Changes To Look Forward to in the New Year

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The Department of Homeland Security and Department of State have announced the planned publication dates for proposed changes to several different visa categories. Here is what we can look forward to in the coming year.

H-1B Visas

Planned publication date: December 2019

The proposed rule is expected to revise the definitions of “employment” and employer-employee relationship”, restrict offsite placement of H-1B, and is also expected to address new wage obligations. Changes in this field have already been published in an USCIS policy memorandum issued in February 2018. For more information please click here.

Foreign Students’ Duration of Stay

Planned publication date: February 2020

A duration of stay is the amount of time a foreign national entering the country can legally stay for. A duration of stay is different from the visa validity period. For more information about this, please click here. This information can be found on the person’s I-94. A foreign student’s admission until date on the I-94 usually shows “D/S”, which stands for duration of stay. D/S means that the foreign nation is permitted to remain in the US until the end of their authorized activity plus any applicable grace period. For some students, this means that their stay can be up to a decade if they choose to continue their education.

H-4 Visa Employment Authorization

Planned publication date: March 2020

Although the proposal for the termination of the H-4 employment authorization has been in place for many months. Details about the changes such as whether or not current holders of valid work permits can continue to legally are still unknown at this time.

Business Visitors

Planned publication date: March 2020

The proposed regulation is expected to change the current policy by restricting permissible business visitor activities and eliminate policies that allow B-1 visitors to engage in work in limited circumstances. The B-1 classification is available to foreign nationals who desire to enter the U.S. for short-term business activities. Some examples of permissible activities while in the U.S. on a B-1 visa are negotiating contracts, leases, or the terms of commercial transactions, consulting with business associates, or participating in an industry conference. For more information about the current B-1 visa program, please click here.

EB-5 Program

Planned publication date: March 2020

After the EB-5 investment amount increased on November 21, a proposal to change the way EB-5 Regional Centers are designed was announced. This proposal also includes changes to the way EB-5 projects are monitored.

Green Card Processing

Planned publication date: April 2020

The proposal seeks to discontinue the concurrent filing of Form I-485, adjustment of status along with the Form I-140 immigrant petition. Currently, if the applicant is in the country on legal status, they are able to file for an adjustment of status at the same time as the I-140 application. After the I-140 application is approved, the I-485 will be automatically adjudicated. Taking away the concurrent filings will increase the wait times significantly as each individual application can take up to a year to process. This would also mean that the applicant cannot file for advance parole or a work permit until they can file the I-485.

L-1 Visas

Planned publication date: September 2020

The proposal seeks to redefine the L-1B specialized knowledge category, L-1 employment and employer-employee relationships, and will seek to future restrict offsite placement of L-1 employees. The restrictions on employer-employee relationship and offsite placements are proposals that have already been published STEM OPT students. New wage obligations are also expected to be imposed on L-1 employers which does not current exist at this time.

Please note that above timelines are the proposed publication dates. Many of these proposals were slated to be made public but continuous changes have delayed some for more than a year. Even after the proposal is announced, there will be no immediate affect on foreign nationals until the proposal passes many regular administrative procedures. This approval process can usually take up to months.

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