How could the result of the US Presidential Election impact British lawyers who travel to the United States? Faegre Baker Daniels immigration lawyer Claire Nilson explores the implications.
President-Elect Trump’s immigration statements in the run up to the election have focused on those already in the country without authorisation and his employment-related immigration policies have been less clear, other than to place emphasis on requiring employers to hire U.S. workers. It is unclear how exactly he seeks to achieve this in practice, although there hasbeen some mention of raising the prevailing wages that U.S. employers must pay H-1B workers.
For many British lawyers, the H-1B (specialty occupation) visa sponsored by a prospective U.S. employer is one of the most utilised non-immigrant work visa categories. There has been some indication that employment-based green card issuance might be slowed down or paused, which could affect British lawyers seeking to remain in the U.S. on a long-term basis. There have been no more specific statements relating to other non-immigrant categories commonly used by British lawyers such as L-1 (intracompany transfer), E (treaty) and O-1 (exceptional ability) work visas.
One specific comment that has been made relates to the implementation of an entry/exit tracking system to ensure foreign visitors do not overstay their visas, although it is unclear how this might differ from the I-94 system already in place. Such a system would apply to all foreign nationals seeking admission into the United States, including those entering as business visitors without a visa. Legitimate business visit activities on behalf of overseas employers can include activities commonly undertaken by British lawyers such as negotiating contracts, meeting with business associates and litigating, as long as no active work is undertaken whilst in the United States.
President-Elect Trump has also discussed requiring all employers to use the E-Verify employment verification system in the future, as well as the possibility of suspending immigration from predominantly Muslim countries, thereby blocking the issuance of work visas to people from those countries. It is unclear how attitudes on immigration from such countries might expand to British law firms with lawyers and employees of the Muslim faith seeking to do business in the United States.
President-Elect Trump comes from a background of business rather than politics. During the period of transition between the end of the election and the inauguration of the new president, it will be interesting to see how business seeks to approach its lobbying efforts and whether commercial pragmatism may start to raise its head.
It is important to note that any changes to U.S. business immigration laws will require cooperation in Congress. At the time of writing this, there is a very even split between the seats held by the Democratic and Republic parties albeit with a slight leaning towards the Republicans.
Claire D. Nilson is a U.S. Immigration Attorney. She heads the Immigration & Global Mobility Team in the London office of Faegre Baker Daniels.