What About the O-1 Visa Process Will Change Post Election 2016?

Here are the top 8 things you need to know…

There is a lot of talk and unfortunately a lot of misinformation in regards to how the immigration processes will be affected with the change in administration and arrival of Donald Trump to the White House come January. To help shed some light on how the shift in the presidential authority could alter the O-1 visa (artist visa) process in particular, we’ve compiled a list of the 8 things you need to know…

8. History Has Shown That Executive Power Does Have a Direct Impact on Immigration Legislation and Policies

This blog post could easily be a book on on the nuances of this topic, however in the interest of being succinct and to the point….most landmark immigration efforts of the past 50 years have been the result of the executive’s policy influence. From the passing of the Immigration and Nationality Act to the amnesty of the 1980s to the most recent protections for childhood arrivals, the executive branch has wielded broad influence in these matters. So, we can say with confidence that a new administration will wield power and shape immigration policies going forward, how and to what extent is still unknown.

7. No Policy Changes Until January 20  

As far as policy goes, no changes will be made or could take effect until after January 20, 2017. So for the next two months, it is in a sense “business as usual”. It is still unknown if the Trump administration will seek to change or alter the work visa process or extend a fewer amount to qualified candidates each year.

6. Applications Are Reviewed By People

Think of it like the college application process or a job interview, there is no hard or fast rule for admittance or denial - there is a set standard of qualifications yes but often times it comes down to who is reviewing the application, it is a person-to-person and case-by-case decision process. For instance, even if official processes are not altered by the administration, the more forceful conversation and rhetoric might have a psychological impact on USCIS officers that might result in a “firmer” stance on foreign workers.

5. If Policies Do Change, The New Secretary of Homeland Security Holds the Keys

There is no guarantee if current non-immigrant visa processes and policies will stay the same or change. What we do know is that the current policies will be reviewed and determined by the newly appointed Secretary of Homeland Security. Who Trump will choose as his Secretary of Homeland Security is still just rumors and hearsay, however we do know that this presidential appointment is subject to approval by the Senate.

4. Current Dialogue Suggests More Protections for the US Workforce

Again, a lot of talk but no clear guidance on what to expect and how the new administration might seek to alter the artist visa application and process. Policy proposals have ranged from a complete restructuring of visa policies to a more cautious approach of small incremental changes. What we can say with certainty is that there is a comparatively more forceful and protective viewpoint of the US workforce supported by the new administration. We might expect to see a shift in tone which could hinder current processes by giving decision makers with a more protectionist worldview an indirect endorsement to support and carry out policies that limit invitations for foreign workers to work in the US.

3. We’re Not Being Alarmist, But...Best To Get Those Applications in Early

For now there is nothing new to prepare in terms of new requirements within the artist visa/O-1 visa application.  However, since it is very foreseeable that the incoming administration could act on their proposals which would seek to alter the process (in some ways big or small) we recommend applying for immigration benefits as soon as possible.

2. Fact: Trump Is On Record As Opposing the H1-B Visa Category for Depressing US Worker Wages.  

In a statement regarding H1-B visas released in March by the Trump campaign, Trump went on record to say: “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions." Although Trump is not referring to the O-1 visa directly, it would stand to reason that his views on temporary work visas would be consistent. The E-3 (a relative of the H1-B) could easily be reconsidered based on the same logic.  Trump has also expressed interest to re-negotiate trade treaties like NAFTA which could endanger the TN (Treaty-National) visa category that benefits Canadian and Mexican nationals. Then again, his views on immigrant visas have also changed consistently throughout the campaign and have been well documented by The Washington Post among other news outlets.

1. We’re All In This Together

In this new political climate of uncertainty it’s important to remember that there are resources, networks and communities that will continue to advocate for individuals and families seeking the opportunities found and supported in the US. At Lehach Filippa, our mission has always been educating our clients as to the visa process, the legal landscape and where they fit in the mix allowing for a path to best to reach their professional goals. That hasn’t changed, we are (just as we always have been) here for our clients and are prepared to navigate a potentially changing legal structure in the months ahead.

If you have further questions or would like to reach out to our team for a complementary assessment of your case, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a note at hello@lehachfilippa.com.