With considerable attention focused on Trump’s border wall, barriers to legal immigration are being implemented under the radar. Recent changes causing bureaucratic inefficiencies and heightened scrutiny by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are creating new barriers to immigration. Between fiscal years 2017 and 2018 there has been a 7% decrease in nonimmigrant visas and a 5% decrease in immigrant visas being issued. Processing times have also increased significantly due in part to newly issued and more complex forms and time-consuming Requests for Evidence (RFEs).
The executive order, “Buy American and Hire American,” also known as BAHA has been a critical change to the narrative of legal immigration. The executive order was issued on April 18, 2017 with the aim to protect U.S. businesses and workers. This executive order has forged new challenges for visa applicants, particularly in the preparation for business plans.
Thorough and accurate business plans describing the business’ mission and marketing and operating strategies are critical to a successful petition. With heightened scrutiny by USCIS, the business plan should emphasize how the venture or investment will impact the U.S. economy. Demonstrating how the company will benefit the U.S. is an essential approach to addressing the new executive order and in creating a successful petition. It is also important to showcase a strong narrative that demonstrates the practicality of implementing the business and how it will contribute to the U.S.
A recent finding by the Brookings Institution showed that roughly 43 percent of companies in the Fortune 500 in 2017 were founded or co-founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. A prominent example of this is Sergey Brin, a Russian immigrant who helped found Google. Although this sheds light on the importance of expanding opportunities to non-U.S. citizens and the impact of BAHA, applicants still face a great deal of scrutiny by USCIS, especially when presenting their business plans.
Business plan writers should be addressing the “Hire American” aspect of BAHA by emphasizing the skills and specialized knowledge that are required to fill the position, demonstrating that the foreign employee is instrumental to the entity. It can be useful to include a history of the applicant’s previous experience to emphasis their knowledge or success with similar ventures or employment.
Another approach to addressing a business plan is, rather than focusing on the finer details of the business, to address the big picture of the U.S. economy and labor market. If there is a shortage of skilled U.S. workers for a given position, this should be acknowledged. Include statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor or excerpts from credible articles.
Although Buy American and Hire American and other recent policy changes have prompted increasingly critical examination on visa petitions, a strong, thoughtful business plan grounded on reliable information should help overcome these barriers.