New immigration policy updates allow for economic growth

New Immigration Policy Clarifications and Updates Allow for Economic Growth

Margaret W. Wong, Esq.
Margaret W. Wong & Associates, Co., LPA

August 3, 2011

In light of the recent debt woes facing our country, it is refreshing to see that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is taking action to help make it simpler for prospective immigrants to apply to invest and build businesses in our great country.  Immigration policy can have a profound effect on our nation’s economy and job growth.  It is essential that we attract the best and the brightest from abroad.  The announcement by USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas of a series of initiatives to make it more efficient for USCIS to adjudicate certain business-related immigrant petitions is a welcome development for those of us in the field of immigration law.  It should be viewed as a welcome development by all Americans, because it will promote employment and increase investment.

The new initiative by USCIS will cover H-1B temporary work visas, EB-2 National Interest Waivers and EB-5 investor green card petitions.  H-1B visas are for foreign employees in “specialty occupations.  According to the new clarifications, foreign entrepreneurs will qualify to receive H-1B visas.  Previously, this was generally not possible, because entrepreneurs did not have the requisite employer-employee relationship. The new clarification allows entrepreneurs to apply for H-1B visas, where previously they would have been required to apply for E-2 visa or to seek EB-5 permanent residence, which requires an investment.   This will allow more immigrants to create jobs here.

EB-2 National Interest Waivers are granted to foreign workers seeking employment in an area of intrinsic merit to our national interest.  These waivers are vitally important to our country’s progress in the arts, sciences and business.  USCIS’s plan aims to make the application process smoother and more efficient.

Enhancements to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor green card program will allow those who are able to invest $500,000-1,000,000 and create at least ten jobs in the United States.  EB-5 applicants will also have the option of requesting Premium Processing of their immigrant petition, which significantly expedites processing in exchange for a fee, and can be instrumental in whether an investor with time deadlines chooses to invest in the U.S.  Additionally, the potential implementation of an opportunity for applicant interviews will significantly help clarify who is most deserving of EB-5 status.

I welcome these new initiatives to reduce barriers for job-creating immigrant entrepreneurs and investors and wish the USCIS the best in successfully implementing these plans.  The new business-friendly initiatives  will complement the July 17th Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Memo by Director John Morton, which outlines a framework with which ICE officers and prosecutors can exercise discretion with regard to deportations, so that ICE can focus on the most important removal priorities, to help our country continue to progress as the great melting pot it has always been.

Margaret W. Wong is the co-chair of NAPABA’s Immigration Committee, is an Ellis Island Medal winner, has been rated an Ohio Super Lawyer and Ohio Leading Lawyer, and is a member of both the Ohio Women and Ohio International Halls of Fame.