With the inauguration just days away, what will the immigration landscape look like in the first 100 days of the Trump Administration? We can expect a lot of talk about enforcement, about the repeal of various executive actions and about the need for reform of certain business immigration programs.
Enforcement encompasses increased border security and renewed workplace compliance. Whether a physical wall will be built remains to be seen, but I expect an uptick in the hiring of Customs and Border protection officers. I assume we will see an expansion of E-Verify, or a similar compliance program, to make it mandatory for every employer in the U.S., and I would get ready for an increase in worksite visits. Employers should make sure that their I-9 forms and employee records are in order.
It will be interesting to see how the administration will deal with the 750,000 or so beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Will they lose their employment eligibility right away or will there be a gradual phase out of the program?
On the business immigration side, a renegotiation or withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other trade agreements could spell doom for TN status for Canadians and Mexicans, E-3 visas for Australians and H-1B1 visas for citizens of Chile and Singapore. Also, the H-1B specialty occupation visa has come under a lot of fire recently and I expect a tightening of the requirements for employers who rely heavily on H-1B workers. Prevailing wages, filing fees and associated costs could all go up when the new administration revises the H-1B visa guidelines to protect U.S. workers. The EB-5 investor green card program is also being updated to increase the minimum investment amounts before a foreign investor can obtain a green card. Stay tuned for a bumpy ride.