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Immigration in 2020: What can we expect

It was only a matter of time…Obtaining an H-1B or L-1 visa is harder than ever before.

Last week, The Department of Homeland Security and Department Of State announced their plans to introduce a number of new immigration regulations within the next few months. These will mostly apply to certain employment visas such as L, H-1B, and business visitors travelling on the B1 visa.

The denial rate for H-1B petitions is three times higher than in 2010-2015. This is a direct result of the Trump Administrations new policies which can also be seen in other employment-based visa categories like the L-1, whose denial rates have increased from just 6% in 2006 to 39% in 2018. Additional changes are set to be implemented by March 2020 and include a ban on work authorization for spouses of H-1B holders as well as updates to the required wages paid to foreign visa holders.

Consequently, the increased percentage of denials and Request For Evidence (RFEs) has led to an increase in the amount of working hours necessary to prepare a successful petition. Even the most experience attorneys have no choice but to increase their legal fees as the overall immigration process becomes even more selective, restrictive, and unclear.

Thankfully, the newly introduced E-2 visa presents another avenue in which Israelis can pursue legal working status in the US. After years of tireless efforts, the Chamber of Commerce’s Visa Committee saw the writing on the wall and was finally able to solidify the E-2 visa for Israelis in May 2019. This is particularly helpful for many reasons: there is no limit on the number of E-2 visas issued per year; the visa is issued by the US Embassy in Israel as opposed to more-restrictive USCIS; spouses of principal E-2 visa holders can work in the US after obtaining authorization; and the visa is issued for a period of up to 5 years.

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