New Travel Ban Takes Effect October 18, 2017
The Trump administration has recently announced a new version of its travel ban. Unlike previous versions, the latest travel ban is intended to be permanent. The ban has varying effects on foreign nationals from each of the eight countries it targets. While citizens from these countries may still be able to travel to or remain in the US on exchange or foreign worker visas, increased scrutiny of H-1B visa applications could result in substantial delays in response and issuing times for these visas.
The new travel ban targets citizens of Syria, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Chad, North Korea, Venezuela, and Somalia. Syrian and North Korean citizens are both barred from coming to the US indefinitely. Iranian citizens are also indefinitely barred, unless they hold valid student or exchange visitor (i.e., J-1) visas and pass an enhanced screening. Citizens of Libya, Yemen, and Chad will not be allowed to come to the US as long-term or permanent immigrants, or on tourist or business visitor visas, but US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will still consider applications for other types of visas, such as student, exchange visitor, artist or athlete visas. Venezuelan government officials are barred indefinitely. Somali citizens may not come to the US long term or on a green card, but can apply for short-term visas, though those applications will be subject to additional scrutiny.
The ban was scheduled to come before the US Supreme Court for oral argument on October 10, but the justices have now requested revised briefing on the changes introduced by the new version of the ban. Oral arguments for and against the ban have been put on hold until the justices can consider these changes. So far, over 160 tech companies have petitioned the court asking for the ban to be rejected, due to the negative impact it has on US companies.
H-1B Applications Under Intense Scrutiny
According to analysis by Reuters, applications made for foreign worker H-1B visas have been subjected to additional challenges by USCIS that have resulted in serious delays for applicants. Data released by USCIS shows that, between January 1 and August 31, 2017, it issued 85,000 challenges, known as “requests for evidence” (RFEs), in response to H-1B applications as compared to the same time last year. This is a 45% increase in challenges for that nine-month period, while the agency received only 3% more applications than the prior year. USCIS has been giving especially high levels of scrutiny to H-1B applications for entry-level positions, which the Trump administration has said violates the policy behind the H-1B program. Applicants are advised to find skilled and experienced legal help when applying for worker visas to ensure that they have the best possible chances of success on these applications.
If your organization is in need of informed and knowledgeable legal advice on an immigration issue in Southern California, contact the San Diego offices of Esprit Law for a consultation, at 619-876-0503.