A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Monday, June 15, 2020

President's Next Move on H-1B Foreign Workers?

Since President Trump's executive order that blocked immigration from overseas for 60 days, there has been plenty of speculation on what the next order will entail.

Many predict that H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and J-1 visas will almost certainly be targeted. Entry will probably be temporarily blocked for the above workers/trainees who do not yet have their stamped visa. Exceptions could be made for reasons relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, likely for medical workers. It is unclear how visa-holders already in the country would be affected, though it is unlikely such a rule would affect existing approved or pending petitions.

In April, President Trump issued an order suspending immigration from overseas countries for 60 days.  Last month, the President also ordered a ban of issuing visas to Chinese students who have ties with universities in China that advocate the government's military policy.  Rumors from various sources suggest that Trump's next move will focus on non-immigrant visa categories and F-1 students' practical training programs.  

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H-1B cases from this CAP season are also probable targets. A bar as described above would complicate entry for new H-1B workers set to work in FY 2021. Some say that these restrictions could last from 90 days up to 180 days. If not announced on mid-June, it is expected that the order will come by the end of the month.

Possible regulatory changes further down the road could affect employment under F-1 OPT and H-4 visas. H-4 employment authorization has been a target for termination for a while now. The STEM OPT extension to F-1 student's post-completion OPT could also be eliminated. Employment authorization could also be rescinded for refugees, asylees, and temporary protected status (TPS) holders. The H-1B program in general will likely be a target of regulation change as well, possibly through heightened requirements and fees.

This is all uncertain and based on rumors and speculation. Still, anyone with a visa mentioned above should take precautionary action, such as entering the country as soon as possible.  If you are eligible to file for an extension or change of status (e.g., H-1B), H-4 EAD, etc, you should act now.   It is also wise to have a plan regarding your immigration filings, as well as a backup plan should things didn't go as planned. It is more important than ever to seek advice of an experienced immigration attorney to evaluate your options.  

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