U.S. and U.K. Immigration Topics Discussed at Forum Meeting

A brief recap of the most recent Immigration Forum discussions on changes to the H-1B application process and Brexit, among other immigration trends.

 The Worldwide ERC® Immigration Forum is chaired by Jurga McCluskey of Deloitte and Vice Chair Azmina Aboobaker of Facebook. Open to anyone interested in immigration issues relevant to mobility, the Immigration and other Forums generally meet in person at Worldwide ERC®’s U.S. conferences and conduct regular review calls of the core issues housed and tracked in a relevant issues matrix.

Vice Chair Aboobaker started out the most recent in-person meeting at the Global Workforce Symposium in Boston by reviewing trends in North American immigration policy. Immigration remains a high priority for the Trump Administration with the main goals of decreasing immigration across the board (both lawful and unlawful), protecting U.S. workers, and increasing fraud detection and transparency for employment-based visa programs. Many visa categories (H-1B, L-1, TN) are seeing increased denial rates and more Requests for Evidence (RFEs). This is creating a lot more uncertainty for both employers and employees applying for visas. The Trump Administration is planning on making some substantial changes to the H-1B application process for 2020 in the hopes of reducing the administrative burden. Pre-registration for H-1B visas is supposed to be available for next year’s applicants which would accelerate the recruiting timeline by about three months. Applications would be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. It has not yet been announced when the pre-registration window will be, but companies should already be preparing for this change. Canada, meanwhile, continues to be a welcoming destination for both high skilled workers and asylum seekers.

Vice Chair Aboobaker started out the most recent in-person meeting at the Global Workforce Symposium in Boston by reviewing trends in North American immigration policy. Immigration remains a high priority for the Trump Administration with the main goals of decreasing immigration across the board (both lawful and unlawful), protecting U.S. workers, and increasing fraud detection and transparency for employment-based visa programs. Many visa categories (H-1B, L-1, TN) are seeing increased denial rates and more Requests for Evidence (RFEs). This is creating a lot more uncertainty for both employers and employees applying for visas. The Trump Administration is planning on making some substantial changes to the H-1B application process for 2020 in the hopes of reducing the administrative burden. Pre-registration for H-1B visas is supposed to be available for next year’s applicants which would accelerate the recruiting timeline by about three months. Applications would be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. It has not yet been announced when the pre-registration window will be, but companies should already be preparing for this change. Canada, meanwhile, continues to be a welcoming destination for both high skilled workers and asylum seekers.

Chairman McCluskey then proceeded to give an “around the world” update on key immigration trends. Of particular note to the talent mobility community, immigration continues to be a driving force of political agendas around the world, and many countries are adopting increasingly sophisticated technology to digitize and improve their immigration processes. Brexit also continues to be a major topic due to the uncertainty for those working in immigration. With Parliament’s passing of the Ben Act preventing Boris Johnson from leaving the EU without a deal, and the next general election slated for 12 December, the future of Brexit remains uncertain.

Of particular note to the talent mobility community, immigration continues to be a driving force of political agendas around the world, and many countries are adopting increasingly sophisticated technology to digitize and improve their immigration processes.

Kelli Duenhning of Berry Appleman & Leiden wrapped up the meeting by providing additional details on the U.S. immigration landscape from a government affairs perspective, noting that the Trump administration is working to change immigration policy by using a wide array of regulatory and legislative actions. In addition to top priorities of addressing the F-1, H-1B, and H-4 regulations, the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA, is another area of focus. A Supreme Court decision on DACA is expected in the middle of next year. In the meantime, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is not currently accepting new DACA applications.

In other immigration news, Congress’ proposed legislation to phase out per-country green card limits so that the wait time is the same regardless of a person’s nationality (H.R. 1044/S.386) had seemed to generate bipartisan support, but it does not appear to have enough of a backing to pass this year. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is working on another piece of legislation that would work to address this issue.

For the full details of the most recent Immigration Forum meeting, read the meeting minutes. All Worldwide ERC® members are welcome to attend future Forum meetings. Please also consider joining our online community groups dedicated to each of the current five Forums - global, immigration, real estate and mortgage, regulatory and compliance and tax, and keep up to date with our current legislative agendas.

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