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    US immigration Changes

    Offshore Legal Service Provider EST. 1996

26September

US Immigration Policy Changes for 2021

immigration usa

There have been countless reports about the Biden administration changes to US immigration policy - but what does it mean for people looking at moving to the states or returning home from abroad? Amendments to policy don't just affect prospective expats, but also: (1) US businesses employing foreign national workers; (2) American citizens living overseas; (3) Multinationals with domestic and international locations; (4) Access to global talent and investors.

Let's take a look at a summary of what's happening and new regulations in response to a period of global change.

Table of Contents:

American Immigration Policies for Entrepreneurs

Perhaps one of the most essential areas is the accessibility of US immigration for skilled professionals and entrepreneurs looking to launch a new venture on American soil.

Around half of all Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants, or the children of immigrants, and employ just fewer than 14 million people. States with the highest proportion of successful businesses started by non-US citizens include New York, Texas, Florida, California, and Illinois.

Having been suspended by the Trump Administration, the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) has been readopted. Applicable conditions include:

  • The ability to apply for a visa for up to five years to start or grow a business.
  • Ownership of at least 10% in a start-up company.
  • Investment from American individuals or corporations of at least $250,000.

The renewal of this program paves the way for continued investment into the American economy and employment market.

Estimates from the Department of Homeland Security predict that 3,000 entrepreneurs will qualify for the IER each year, leading to 10,000 jobs created every 12 months.

Given the ongoing changes to immigration rules, and the need to produce robust business planning documents, "officials are stressing the importance of using an international financial adviser" says, Chase Buchanan before applying for the IER route.

 
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Changes to US Refugee Migration Regulations

At the time of writing, the world is still reeling from the developments in Afghanistan, which will only add to the record increases in migrants attempting to reach the US border.

Multiple amendments attempt to stem the vast backlog of asylum claims - with 1.3 million pending cases reported in August 2021.

  • New policies have been issued allowing immigration judges to ignore Trump-era rules creating challenges in cases where immigrants have been victims of domestic or gang violence.
  • Work is ongoing to prevent migration across the Mexico border, identify root causes, and deliver aid to improve conditions and provide greater economic opportunities.
  • The Biden administration has proposed new rules allowing US Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum officers to process claims, rather than referring every case to an immigration court judge.

Ultimately, the overhaul of the asylum system should lead to quicker decisions, a reduction in the backlog of cases, and greater parity for applicants.

Applying for a US Green Card in 2021

Most expats traveling to the states will move to take up a job opportunity, live closer to family members, or study at a US college or university - and there are changes here too in the eligibility criteria for new applicants.

The H1B Visa Program applies to specialty workers, granting up to six years residency rights for professionals in fields such as:

  • Medicine
  • IT and finance
  • Architecture
  • Engineering
  • Science

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, but restrictive changes in the last administration meant that those with the highest wages were given priority.

This rule has been scrapped, so applications are selected based on a computerized draw rather than income. Further, a memo issued by the Trump administration in July 2018 has also been rescinded.

This memo allowed immigration officers to automatically deny visa or extension application requests without giving notice or seeking further information. However, there is an annual visa cap every year. Congress has mandated 65,000 H1B visas for the 2021 fiscal year.

US Policy Changes on Family Immigration

Alongside the asylum reforms, the Biden administration has announced plans to extend the eligibility of current US residents to act as a sponsor for a new family visa applicant.

U-Visa applicants who are victims of serious crime or assisting US law enforcement will now be permitted to sponsor children while their case is pending.

Immigrant parents with ongoing visa applications for asylum will also be able to sponsor their children, making family reunification a priority, over and above the need to finalize the outcome of pending decisions for parents.

Other US citizens can also sponsor an immigration applicant through the I-864 form, called an Affidavit of Support. To act as a sponsor, you must be at least 18 years old, living in the US as a citizen or permanent resident.

The form verifies that the sponsor will provide financial assistance to the foreign national and helps them qualify for a green card through the family sponsorship route.

Sponsors must meet minimum income requirements, based on 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, depending on the number of people in the household. For example:

  • An I-864 sponsor in the 48 contiguous states must earn $21,775 a year as part of a two-person household or $33,125 in a four-person home.
  • In Hawaii, those thresholds change to $25,050 and $38,100, respectively.

The financial requirement ensures that the sponsor has the means to support the foreign national applicant. Filing an I-864 form is free of charge, and two sponsors can file separate I-864a forms to combine their resources to meet the minimum income requirements.

Keeping Abreast of US Immigration Reforms

Many of the changes we've summarised here are ongoing, and many more proposals are likely to be accepted into law as the year progresses.

After a year of travel restrictions, border closures, and difficulties for US nationals looking to return home, the efforts to overhaul the immigration system are positive news.

However, it remains crucial to review existing mandates and eligibility requirements before applying for any form of US visa. The rules can and will continue to evolve as the Biden administration progresses forward in this large-scale program of reforms.

Article Written By: Chase Buchanan a global wealth management company

 

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