How Merit-Based Immigration Requirements Could Impact Foreign Business Owners in the U.S.
With the hard-fought battle for tax reform finally over, the White House has begun its next major campaign—ending family-based (or “chain”) immigration in favor of a merit-based system. This proposal seeks to offer immigration exclusively to those with high levels of education or certain marketable skills. Foreign business owners currently living in the U.S. may be affected by this proposal in several ways.
From the business perspective, the push for limiting immigrants would mean that there’d be even steeper competition for merit-based visas. The existing H-1B visa program—which allows companies to bring in skilled foreign workers for specific jobs—is constantly over-subscribed. For the fifth year in a row, the applications exceeded the number of available visas. And that cap was hit just four days after the annual filing began.
Thus immigration changes may have a two-fold impact on a foreign business in the U.S. First, if a business owner hoped to staff a U.S. facility with employees from the owner’s home country, that may be less likely, given the competition for the visas. And second, depending on the specific skills needed (such as in high tech), the company may face a shortfall in qualified workers.
On the personal level, it could be tougher for business owners’ family members to emigrate and obtain a U.S.-issued green card. Without a business owner’s ability to sponsor family members’ immigration applications, these relatives and loved ones would have to gain legal entry on their own merits.
This policy, if enacted, could make it more difficult for recent immigrant business owners to thrive, since family members can be tremendous assets—from tangible benefits (such as working in the business or running a household and providing childcare) to psychological support while learning to succeed in the new culture.
Although this push toward merit-based immigration won’t directly affect the immigration status of current legal entrants, it’s worth following for anyone with a vested interest in changes to the way U.S. immigration policy works.
As immigration law reform proceeds, you’ll need counsel to help you protect your current staff, as well as address staffing needs in the future. To get started preparing for these important changes, contact Zanes Law.