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Business Immigration Zone (BIZ): Draft Executive Order Puts a Focus on Visa Programs Used by Employers

February 16, 2017

A recent draft executive order from the White House indicates employers and businesses may soon feel the pinch of more restrictive immigration policies.

The draft executive order, which is rumored to have circulated around the White House in January, calls for revising visa programs employers rely on to obtain highly skilled employees and guest laborers. Employers in healthcare, agriculture and STEM would be particularly impacted. The draft executive order specifically calls for (1) revisions to H-1B, L and B visa programs; (2) a new procedure for processing H-2A agricultural visas; (3) new regulations for governing the E-2 treaty investor category for foreign entrepreneurs; and (4) “pro-enforcement” initiatives to allow the expansion of site visits to job sites by immigration authorities. The overall policy objective is to restrict employer access to visas in favor of U.S. workers.

Although this draft executive order is in the formative stages, it is clear the Trump administration may focus on implementing policies such as increased enforcement of nondiscrimination regulations to protect workers who are laid off and replaced with foreign-born employees. Because it appears the White House is contemplating measures to reduce the inflow of foreign labor to the United States, businesses should think about obtaining visas through the current immigration regulations before they are changed.

For solutions concerning business and employment immigration, contact brandon.davis@phelps.com.