In April 2017 President Trump issued the Buy American, Hire American Executive Order. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has carried out and is considering a number of policy and regulatory changes to fulfil the president's executive order, including conducting a thorough review of employment-based visa programmes. Further, there are several bills being considered in the House and Senate pertaining to immigration.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allocated $22.8 billion between 2014 and 2016 to enforce and administer immigration laws, one of its strategic missions. In 2014 a DHS Unity of Effort initiative created the Joint Task Forces to coordinate the department's resources. The DHS Office of Inspector General recently audited DHS to evaluate whether it has been achieving its mission in the most efficient way possible.
In April 2017 President Trump signed the "Buy American, Hire American" executive order. Subsequently, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) started working on the necessary rulemaking, policy memoranda and operational changes to implement the executive order. As part of these initiatives, USCIS recently updated agency policy guidance on the burden of proof for extension petitions.
Following the president's "Buy American, Hire American" executive order, companies and immigration practitioners have witnessed increased scrutiny over immigration compliance. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting director recently confirmed plans to increase enforcement in order to prevent fraud and abuse. ICE has indicated, among other things, that it will prosecute employers for knowingly hiring or retaining workers who lack valid US employment authorisation.
President Trump recently released an executive order in which the secretary of state, the attorney general, the secretary of labour and the secretary of homeland security were prompted to suggest reforms and propose new laws to ensure H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest paid beneficiaries. In line with these developments, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the US Department of Labour have published reports detailing the existing H-1B trends.
The government and UK businesses want the United Kingdom to have maximum access to the single market following Brexit, but the European Union has stated that single market membership is conditional on allowing free movement of persons. There are a number of possible compromises that could enable the United Kingdom to continue to participate in the single market while retaining at least some control over migration.
Employers in the health, education and social services sectors should notify their overseas employees of the new criminal record certificates requirement. From April 6 2017, Tier 2 applicants applying for entry clearance under specified Standard Occupational Classification codes and their adult dependants will be required to obtain a criminal record certificate from each country in which they have been resident for 12 months or more in the past 10 years.
Employers are urged to act now to minimise the immediate impact of the impending increase in UK immigration costs when the immigration skills levy (ISL) is introduced in April 2017. Under the ISL, the cost of a five-year Tier 2 sponsorship is set to increase by £5,000. Essentially, the ISL is designed to reduce demand on the scheme and result in additional opportunities for resident workers.
The Tier 2 and Tier 5 guidance is now over 200 pages long, following the changes introduced in November 2016. The common theme in the changes is a renewed focus on genuineness and the removal of untrustworthy sponsors from the register. One change that will have an immediate effect on employers is the work start date used in the certificate of sponsorship – this can no longer be delayed by more than four weeks.
Tier 1 of the points-based system has been stripped of a number of sub-categories in recent years and tough restrictions continue to be imposed on the remaining sub-categories, especially the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category. The most recent changes in the Immigration Rules introduced predominantly technical amendments to the guidance and clarified provisions that previously caused confusion for applicants.