In late June 2020, President Donald Trump signed an executive order freezing new visas for foreign workers until the end of 2020. President Trump’s order stems from the culture of protectionism that surrounds his administration; he cited the order as a way to preserve American jobs when unemployment is high as a result of the arrival of COVID-19. The executive order also continues the freeze on green cards for new immigrants through December 31, 2020. We provide this guide so you know exactly which visas are impacted by President Trump’s executive order and the consequences you might face as a result.

Which Visas Did President Trump Freeze with His Executive Order?

The United States grants a variety of different visas for those who come to the country. President Trump froze the issuance of five different types of visas related to foreign workers in the United States. They are:

  • H1-B visas are temporary worker visas issued to those who work in specialty occupations. According to the State Department, those who receive H1-B visas must have a college degree or equivalent and the group includes fashion models, those who work in government-to-government research and development, and special Department of Defense projects.
  • H2-B visas are general temporary worker visas for those who do not work in agriculture.
  • H-4 visas are non-immigrant visas issued to the spouses and dependents of those who hold H visas, including H1-B and H2-B visas.
  • J visas are a broad class of visitor visas that are issued to those who come to the United States for an exchange program. Examples of those who receive J visas are camp counselors, doctors, interns, students, teachers, and official government visitors.
  • L visas are issued to those who work as managers or executives and worked for the same employer abroad for one year within the three previous years.

President Trump’s executive order did provide exemptions for healthcare workers and scientists who treat and research COVID-19, college professors, and those working in food-related industries.

What Impact Does Freezing Green Cards and Visas Have on Foreigners?

Those who receive temporary work visas aspire to eventually get a green card, so they do not have to constantly live in limbo, wondering whether they will get the visa they need to stay in the United States. Those who had high hopes of receiving a green card by the end of the year also must cope with being in limbo. The exact impact of the freeze varies based on the type of visa and the authorized amount of time a non-immigrant foreign worker has in the United States. Foreign workers, their families, and members of exchange face the following consequences:

Leaving the United States

A visa gives a non-immigrant worker the right to apply for entry into the United States. Once the United States permits a foreigner entry, they also receive a duration of status that states how long they can stay in the country, which can vary from a few months to a few years. Keep in mind that your status is different from your visa expiration date. If your visa has expired or will expire before the end of 2020, you will not automatically need to leave the country as long as your status is still valid. However, once your status changes, you have two months to leave the United States.

Potential Job Loss

The freeze on visas puts some U.S. companies at risk. Some industries need foreign workers because workers in the United States cannot or will not fill the roles they need. Restrictions on hiring can spell disaster and potentially put some organizations out of business. Non-immigrant workers in the U.S. who lose their jobs have a status change, which requires them to quickly find another job or leave the country.

Increased Economic Activity and Jobs Abroad

Restricting candidates for U.S. companies and multinational companies who do business in the United States forces them to move jobs outside the U.S. Depending on what part of the world a worker comes from and which other countries they might find eligibility to work, the opportunity for jobs outside the United States might increase. Yet, sending jobs overseas reduces the jobs available for citizens, green card holders, and visa holders in the U.S. This has the potential to devastate households. During hard times, U.S. citizens can get government assistance for food and seek help from other programs. Visa holders are ineligible and many permanent residents have to wait for five years for assistance.

Loss of Educational Opportunities

The U.S. State Department states that those who experience different cultures through educational and cultural exchanges gain a deeper understanding of themselves as others. Additionally, exchange programs deepen knowledge about foreign cultures and strengthen relationships with those from other countries. Freezing J visas until the end of 2020 prevents exchange participants from reaping these benefits. Whether visiting the U.S. as an exchange student, teaching a foreign language to U.S. students or campers, or visiting the U.S. as part of a professional exchange program, most of these programs won’t be able to operate until after 2020.

Economic Uncertainty in Country of Origin

Non-immigrant workers forced to return to their country of origin as a result of the freeze on green cards and visas potentially face economic uncertainty. While the freeze might push certain jobs out of the United States, it doesn’t guarantee that those who return home will have a job waiting for them. Additionally, COVID-19 has negatively impacted the global economy, not only the U.S. economy. Economic uncertainty for foreign workers when they return home translates into potential struggles to meet basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing.

Get the Legal Help You Need to Navigate the Immigration Legal System

Coping with changes in laws, executive orders, and other issues related to immigration and your status in the United States can overwhelm you. The skilled attorneys Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson have been helping foreign workers and their families navigate the U.S. Immigration Legal System for decades. We’re here to help you find the best strategy to get the results you need. Contact us today online or at 504-523-6496 to discuss your immigration status and learn more about how the recent executive order freezing visas impacts you and your family.

The United States government had created the EB-5 Investor Visa to help encourage foreign investment in businesses in the United States. While this program has considerably evolved since its formation in 1990, recent modifications have brought many new changes to the EB-5 Investor Visa rules. In this blog post, we will delve into the specifics of how these new changes have updated aspects of priority date retention, increased minimum investment requirements, provided clarifications to specific USCIS procedures, and will also explain how you can apply for an EB-5 Investor Visa in Louisiana.

The EB-5 Visa Basics

Under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, individuals who make the necessary investment in a business venture in the United States and preserve or create ten full-time jobs for qualified United States workers are eligible for lawful permanent residence in the United States. Stated simply, the EB-5 Investor Visa allows immigrant investors to obtain lawful permanent residency if they want to manage a business in the United States.

There are two ways to obtain an EB-5 Investor Visa- The Regional Center Pilot Program and the Basic Program.

  • Regional Center Pilot Program allows immigrants to invest in “regional centers” that have been approved by government agencies. Investing in these regional centers provides significant benefits to immigrants seeking residence in the United States through the EB-5 program. One of the most notable advantages is the ability to count both indirect and direct jobs, meaning they do not need to show they directly hired any employees. Instead, the burden of proving job creation is passed onto the regional center.
  • The Basic Program allows immigrants to invest in their own business or a business owned by other individuals. Under this option, only direct jobs are eligible to meet the job creation criteria. Specifically, the immigrant needs their investment to create or sustain ten new identifiable jobs over a two-year period.

The New EB-5 Rule

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently published a new EB-5 rule that went into effect on November 21, 2019. This new law brought with it several changes to the Immigrant Investor Program that included the following updates:

  • Provided priority date retention to certain EB-5 investors.
  • Increased the required minimum investment to account for inflation.
  • Reformed particular targeted employment area (TEA) designations.
  • Clarified specific USCIS procedures for the removal of conditions on permanent residence, and
  • Made other technical and conforming revisions.

What You Need to Know

You may be asking; how do these new rules affect your ability to qualify for the EB-5 program? To break it down even further, please review the summaries below.

Priority Date Retention

Under this new element, certain immigrant investors will keep the priority date of their previously approved EB-5 petition, even when they file for a new petition.

Increased Minimum Investments

  • The usual minimum investment amount has increased from $1 million to $1.8 million to account for inflation.
  • The minimum investment in targeted employment areas (i.e., rural areas and places of high unemployment) has increased from $500,000 to $900,000 to account for inflation.
  • Per the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, future adjustments will also be tied to inflation and occur every five years.

Targeted Employment Area (TEA) Designations

  • DHS will now directly review and determine the designation of high-unemployment targeted employment areas (TEAs). They will no longer defer to state and local government of their targeted employment area (TEA) designations.
  • Particular designated high-unemployment targeted employment areas (TEAs) will now consist of a makeup of census tracts that include the tract or contiguous tracts in which the new enterprise is principally doing business, including any or all directly adjacent tracts.
  • Targeted employment areas (TEAs) can now include towns and cities with a population of 20,000 or more outside of metropolitan statistical areas. However, this will only apply if they have experienced an average unemployment rate of at least 150% of the national average unemployment rate.
  • These new rules and changes will help direct investment to areas that are most in need and increase the consistency of how high-unemployment regions are specified in the program.

Clarified Procedures Related to the Removal of Conditions on Permanent Residence

  • These regulations clarify that derivative family members, who are lawful permanent residents, must file to remove their permanent residence conditions independently.
  • These new procedures also provide for flexibility to interview in new locations, and
  • These new rules update the specific regulations to reflect the current process for issuing Green Cards.

How Can an Experienced Immigration Attorney Help You File for an EB-5 Investor Visa?

Preparing and submitting an EB-5 petition is a complicated and tedious process. The application requires an immense number of documents, evidence, and records to show that all the Visa requirements are met. And, many times, if the Petitioner does not provide the correct information or paperwork, they will find that their petition has been denied. That is why it is so crucial that you have the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney if you are filing for an EB-5 Investor Visa.

  • These attorneys will not only provide you with the advice you need concerning eligibility requirements, but they will also review your application making sure everything is correct before filing.
  • These attorneys can also provide you with advice regarding the required documentation and the specific legal procedures while assisting you through the whole process from the preparation to the submission of your documents.

The Law Firm of Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, LLC

Our legal team and attorneys at Stephenson, Chávarri & Dawson, LLC, have experience in all aspects of immigration and nationality law. We understand how complicated these laws are, and with the ever-changing policies, we know how frustrating this process is for our clients. That is why we want to provide individuals and businesses with the best representation and advice they need regarding their immigration concerns.

If you would like to learn more about the EB-5 Investment Program or to see if you qualify, do not wait any longer. Contact our firm today or give us a call at 504-523-6496 to speak with one of our experienced immigration lawyers.



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