Immigration Reforms Coming in 2017
In 2016, the White House attempted to improve employment-based immigration through the release of “smart” Form I-9 and finalizing regulations for 1.) Skilled immigrants, and 2.) Foreign post-graduate student workers.
At the same time, we witnessed disruption following President Obama’s conceded extradition programs and increased interest for President Elect Donald Trump’s plans for business immigration.
2017 H-1B Visa Cap Filings Set New Record
Businesses documented roughly 236,000 petitions for H-1B guestworker visas for financial year 2017, a lower figure than expected, yet outperforming last year’s record by 3,000, as indicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
For the fourth year, USCIS received more petitions than are allowed under the statutory cap of 65,000 visas, in addition to 20,000 visa petitions recorded under the advanced degree exemption.
Deadlock on Obama’s Immigration Plans
The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 23 4-4 decision for a case contesting President Obama’s proposed delayed deportation programs viably blocked almost 5 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States from being permitted work approval.
The deadlock decision left set up a November 2015 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upholding a lower court’s directive blocking the president’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program and extensions to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Trump Immigration Policy Likely to Be Enforcement-heavy
President-elect Trump campaigned all through 2016 with an immigration enforcement first message, focusing on border and worksite enforcement and protecting U.S. employees’ jobs.
Trump promised mandatory E-verify for employers, an update of guestworker programs revoking some of President Obama’s executive actions.
Preparing for Workplace ICE Audits
With the approaching Trump administration ready to focus on immigration enforcement, businesses can stay away from heavy fines by building up an exhaustive I-9 compliance program, which would include training, selfaudits, and an investigation-day action plan.
U.S. Movement and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has reduced working audits in the last couple of years, yet a late increase in punishments for immigration related workplace infringement—including the work of undocumented workers—and another administrative direction for the office may lead to more investigations.