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2018 could bring changes to national immigration policy

Many businesses around Miami and throughout the state of Florida and the United States depend on immigrants to fill key positions in their companies. Many times, these workers fill skilled roles that require extensive education, such as engineering, chemistry or medical positions.

Typically, businesses engage in international hiring by securing visas for their workers that allow them to travel to the United States and reside in the country for the duration of their job contract or visa. With declining unemployment rates and increasing demand for skilled and educated workers, businesses often find the easiest solution is to hire internationally. Future immigration changes could make that process even more difficult.

Work visas are already difficult to obtain

There is a very extensive and often expensive process associated with importing skilled labor to the United States. Special applications must get filled out, and many times the final decision is made by random selection or lottery. With a limited number of visas for immigrant workers available, businesses already had to invest a lot of time and effort to aid in worker immigration.

Domestic unemployment rates have fallen in recent years, which could theoretically lead to an increase in demand for immigrant workers. However, the federal government and current administration have indicated they may take additional steps in the upcoming year to reduce immigration in the future.

More travel bans or reduced options for citizenship could be possible

While many people immigrate to the United States with a family-related visa, many others come here on education and work visas as well. The more countries that are subject to travel bans or increased security checks, the harder it will become for professionals from those targeted nations to secure work visas or legally travel to the United States. Similarly, the more immigration programs that end, the harder it may become for businesses to secure work visas.

Other programs that may face criticism or drastic change include the diversity lottery. This system awarded visas to potential immigrants from under-represented ethnicities who passed background checks. The administration has taken steps to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This program protected immigrants who came to the United States without documentation as children by allowing them to apply for protection from deportation.

Businesses need to explore all their options for immigrant workers

Many businesses seek HB-1 visas for their international staff. These visas help highly-skilled workers secure work in the United States for a three-year term. Companies can apply to renew them for another three years after the initial three.

Employers may need to explore other options, since there are only 85,000 HB-1 visas issued each year. An L-1 visa could help an employee who already works for a business in another country, while an O-1 visa could help those with extraordinary skills and ability seek work in the United States.

As laws, programs and visas change in the upcoming year, businesses will need to carefully comply with requirements and execute necessary paperwork with precision to improve their odds of success.

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