The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have released new data about the average processing times per form and petition type from 2014 through 2018. Despite the fact that the average wait has gone up for almost every type of petition, there have been particularly lengthy delays for certain applicants. Notable examples include foreign nationals seeking a green card now have longer waits than other foreign nationals seeking non-immigrant visa petition. The numbers have been particularly noticeable in the last few years since the 2016 elections.
The United States is the largest destination for foreign-born workers with a college or post-secondary level education. According to Pew Research Center, 14.7 million immigrant ages 25 or older with a college or post-secondary degree legally immigrated in 2015. This number is more than triple of those who immigrate to second-place Canada (4.4 million) or third-place United Kingdom (3.4 million).
The H-1B visa is designed specifically for highly skilled foreign-born workers. One could make certain assumptions about the distribution, one of which would be that Silicon Valley and Seattle with their tech-heavy economies would be metro areas that secure these visas. However, the world famous Pew Research Center has recently concluded a study that tracks where foreign-born workers go. The results may surprise some in that large East Coast hubs as well as Texas metro areas are seeing the highest levels of visa approvals.
We are all well aware that the impasse between the President and Congress related to differences of opinion on immigration and building the wall. It has now led to the partial shutdown of the federal government and will essentially furlough all non-essential personnel. However, fee-funded activities are not affected, which includes the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This means that interviews and appointments will continue on schedule. Moreover, most petitions and applications will also be accepted and processed. There are some services that will be shut down or work at a much reduced capacity. According to the USCIS’s web site, the following services will be suspended:
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is proposing changes to regulations for how the H-1B petitions are counted. As of now, there is an annual limit of 65,000 petitions awarded by lottery and another 20,000 exemptions to that limit.
Immigrants who move to the U.S. to work often get an employer-sponsored H-1B visa that enables them to legally work here. Their immediate families are similarly able to get a work visa, which is an H-4. Now the Department of Homeland Security filed an update to accommodation in federal court on August 20 that enables them to de-authorize the right of H-4 spouses to work.
Singling out immigrants for military discharges was supposed to stop or at least slow down. Now there are new reports that this is not the case. According to the New York Times, some recruits claim that they are unfairly discharged on questionable grounds cited by the military as security. The Army even announced that it would halt this unfair treatment of recruits and review this policy, but it appear to continue.
It seems that every day brings news of another crackdown from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Over the past several months, the agency has steadily intensified its efforts against immigrants. This has led many critics of ICE to express concern that the agency is becoming frighteningly aggressive toward undocumented immigrants.
In our last blog post, we addressed a few ways that immigrant entrepreneurs can seek permanent residence in the United States. Specifically, we looked at the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, which offers a visa to entrepreneurs who can pledge a significant investment and job creation, and the EB-1A Extraordinary Ability program for entrepreneurs who have rare and exceptional abilities.
Many entrepreneurs emigrate from other countries for the business opportunities that the United States can provide. Even though U.S. law enforcement has been tightening restrictions on immigration, it has not discouraged the many foreign-born entrepreneurs who hope to establish a business here. Rather, it has only motivated these entrepreneurs to explore their options for acquiring a green card.