President Donald Trump ran on a platform of America First. As a candidate, he promised to Make America Great Again by, in part, making the United States less friendly to immigrants.
Several recent developments have made clear that Trump is following through on his campaign promises.
At our office, we have seen several signs that one of the Trump Team’s focus is employment based immigration. The DHS has ramped up scrutiny of work visas and green cards through employer sponsorship.
Earlier this year, USCIS turned off premium processing for most H1b cases. The agency also announced that it would be cracking down on the use of “computer programmer” as a specialty occupation as the basis of an H1b.
Two months ago, USCIS announced that it would now conduct face-to-face interviews on employment green cards. USCIS always had this power, but rarely used it before Trump came into office.
We attended a naturalization interview recently with a client who came to America on an H1b, obtained a work based green card and then started his own information technology (IT) consulting company.
The N-400 interview included a whole lot of questions about our client’s work-based immigration history. The officer was extremely interested in whether our client and the companies that he worked for had complied with all of the rules regarding employment based cases.
Jim shot a short video about the interview in Tampa.
These changes represent a significant change in how employment-based visas are handled and it appears that these changes are here to stay.
One way that we stay up to date on what’s going on across the immigration landscape is by participating in online forums and Facebook groups with other immigration lawyers.
One of those groups is called Cool Immigration Lawyers.
Earlier this week, one of our colleagues in Memphis reported that Immigration and Customs Enforcement had placed her H1b client in removal proceedings.
The basis of the removal proceedings was that the client had been charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol. The Department of State quickly revoked his visa and then when the man pleaded guilty, ICE issued him a Notice to Appear, which is the document that commences deportation proceedings. ICE also took him into custody and only released him after he paid a $25,000 bond.
We believe that ICE’s aggressive position may ultimately fail. But that is little consolation for the foreign national who thought he was all set on his immigration status but now finds himself facing deportation from the U.S.
It is not clear whether this new approach is an isolated incident by one ICE office or part of a nationwide policy. It is also unclear as to whether this approach will apply only to DUI’s or to other crimes committed by immigrants.
The point for now is that ICE and DHS are not playing around. These are serious times and immigrants are feeling the pressure.