Business Immigration Planning for 2025

By Ted Chiappari

The Republican and Democratic Parties have both released their draft 2024 party platforms this month. So it’s an opportune time for US businesses currently planning their 2025 hiring, international personnel transfers and global mobility budgets to consider the impact of the major parties’ platforms on business immigration after the election in November.

The Democratic Platform

The draft 2024 Democratic platform identifies four immigration goals, the first two of which are, at least in broad strokes, shared by Republicans:

  • Secure the border;
  • Reform the asylum system;
  • Expand legal immigration;
  • Support long-term undocumented individuals in order to keep families together.

Acknowledging that “lasting, comprehensive reforms require congressional action,” the draft platform states that President Biden “will push Congress to pass legislation” to achieve these goals. Securing the border was not part of the 2020 platform and is presumably a nod to widespread concern about the integrity of our land borders, in particular, our border with Mexico. The other goals are consistent with the 2020 platform, even if the draft 2024 platform lacks the detail and perhaps some of the ambition of the 2020 platform.

While US businesses would certainly benefit from an expansion of legal immigration, the Biden Administration can’t deliver on that without Congressional action.

The GOP Platform

The 2024 GOP platform explicitly seeks to restrict business immigration in the following ways:

  • “Protect American Workers,” “Put American Workers First,” and “Hire American.” 
  • In the name of protecting US workers, the 2017-2021 Trump Administration made multiple attempts to issue regulations that, among other things, change how the prevailing wage was calculated in order to increase minimum compensation levels for the H1B and E3 (specialty occupation) temporary work visa and the PERM green card process. It’s reasonable to assume that these efforts would resume in a second Trump Administration.
  • The 2017-2021 Trump Administration tightened adjudicatory standards and fostered a culture of No in immigration benefits adjudication. For example, according to USCIS statistics, Fiscal Year 2016, the last year of the Obama Administration, showed an approval rate of 94.2% for nonimmigrant worker petitions (Form I129).  In contrast, Fiscal Year 2018 showed an approval rate of 81.9%. Similarly, an April 18, 2019 data presentation by Michael Hoefer, Chief, Office of Performance and Quality, labeled Buy American, Hire American Data Trends, available on the same USCIS webpage, confirms an increase in Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and a decrease in approvals for H1B nonimmigrant worker petitions over the period 2015-2018 (first quarter of FY 2019).
  • “Begin Largest Deportation Program in American History.”
  • If implemented, this will presumably involve worksite raids and may involve more frequent I9 enforcement actions against employers.
  • “Strict Vetting.”
  • While the platform targets “foreign Christian-hating Communists, Marxists, and Socialists” and “jihadists and jihadist sympathizers” for strict vetting, and supports “deport[ing] pro-Hamas radicals” and “revoking Visas of Foreign Nationals who support terrorism and jihadism” as part of an effort to combat antisemitism, any program to tighten further the vetting process for visa applicants at US consular posts, without additional resources dedicated, will undoubtedly slow down the visa application adjudication process for all visa applicants.
  • Reinstate the “Travel Ban,” presumably some version of the 2017 Presidential Proclamation 9645 (which replaced Executive Order 13780). The presidential proclamation targeted countries for their failure to share adequate information related to public safety and terrorism about their nationals. During the first Trump presidency, US employers of nationals of these countries (including Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen) had to deal with employees stranded outside of the United States, and similar disruptions can be expected in a second Trump presidency.

Indirectly, the following elements of the 2024 GOP platform, if implemented, will also most likely restrict business immigration:

  • “Rein in Wasteful Federal Spending.”

The US State Department, which is responsible for issuing visas, will almost certainly see a reduction in its budget if Trump is reelected, as happened during the first Trump Administration – see, e.g., this Foreign Policy magazine article. This will result in longer waits for visa appointments and slower visa application adjudications.

  • Repeal Biden’s AI Executive Order.
  • Biden’s AI Executive Order 14110 signaled that retention of foreign talent with US STEM degrees and an expertise in AI is in the national interest of the United States, which has resulted in an increase in so-called National Interest Waiver (NIW) petitions with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The repeal of this Executive Order would presumably make it more difficult to obtain approval of NIW petitions.
  • Stop China from buying American Real Estate.
  • Depending on how aggressively the already existing restrictions on real estate purchases are expanded, further restrictions may inhibit employers (including universities) in efforts to attract and retain talent from China.


Regardless of who becomes our next president, many of the most critical aspects of our immigration system are statutory and can only be changed legislatively, i.e., not by the executive branch. Significant legislative changes to our immigration system have by and large remained elusive the last 20 years. Even if one party were to sweep both houses of Congress and the White House in November, it is unclear what immigration legislation might ultimately be passed. The following would all require an act of Congress:

  • A merit-based immigration system, as endorsed in the Republican platform, to replace our current system of family, employment, investment and diversity immigrant (permanent) visa classifications. Similarly, ending “Chain Migration,” as endorsed in the Republican platform, could only happen with the elimination of our current statutory system of visa classifications.
  • An expansion of legal immigration, as endorsed in the Democratic platform, for example, through an increase in annual quotas for various visa classifications or the creation of new visa categories.
  • Regularization, in a comprehensive, systematic way, of the immigration status of anyone in the United States without authorization (often referred to as amnesty or legalization), as endorsed in the Democratic platform, at least for those with family ties in the United States.

In the event Biden is reelected, his Administration will almost certainly stay its course on business immigration policy, and any steps taken on border security or asylum reform are unlikely to have a significant impact on business immigration. The business immigration system will most likely continue to be administered as it has been during the first Biden term.

In anticipation of a Trump reelection, US employers relying on foreign talent may want to consider the following steps:

  • Accelerate any mission-critical transfers or hires of foreign nationals into 2024.
  • Manage expectations of internal stakeholders regarding greater unpredictability in adjudications, and likely increases in processing times, requests for evidence (RFEs) and denials beginning next year.
  • Adjust budgets for 2025 to accommodate possible increases in costs for legal fees for responses to RFEs and appeals of denials, as well as increases in travel expenses due to delays in adjudication of visa applications at US consular posts.
  • Plan for potential disruptions and delays in the global mobility of US workers abroad, who may face added challenges obtaining visas and work permits in countries that reciprocate in response to Trump’s policies.

For More Information

If you have any questions about any information discussed above, please get in touch with any of the attorneys in our Immigration Law Group.



Biden Administration Announces New Programs for DACA holders and Undocumented Spouses of US Citizens

On June 18, 2024 the White House announced two new programs to address long standing shortfalls in our current immigration law.

Undocumented spouses of U.S. Citizens, who have lived in the US for 10 years or more,  will be eligible for work authorization and a three year path to legal permanent reisdence, commonly know as green card status.  Thier minor children will also be eligible to apply.  Under current law, these applicants have a 6-10 year path to legal permanent residence, that requires them to return to thier home countries for visa processing, without any guarantee of being able to return to the United States. This new program will eliminate the need for them to leave the United States to adjust to legal permanent resident status.

Under the new program, applicants will apply for Parole in Place (PIP), which if approved will give them legal recognition in the United States and a work permit. Once the applicant’s PIP is approved, the US citizen spouse will be able to follow the normal sponsorship process to obtain legal permanent residence for their spouse and minor children under 21 years old.

DACA recipients who have graduated with a bachelor degree or higher from a U.S. university or college will be eligible to seek legal permanent residence through employment. Under current law, there is no legal pathway for these applicants to seek employment-based green cards due to the fact that they entered the United States illegally as children.  This new program will provide these applicants and their employers the opportunity to seek employment-based green cards with the catch that the applicant will need to leave the United States, at the very end of the process, to attend their green card interview at the U.S. consulate in their home country.

Court Challenge Likely: Unfortunately, an immediate court challenge to these programs is likely. A similar, but different program was proposed by the Obama administration in 2014 for the undocumented parents of U.S. citizen children. Under that program, the adminstration proposed to offer “Deferred Action” to undocumented applicants, similar to the DACA program, which is also now under attack in the courts.  That program was held up in the courts for years, without ever being implemented, before the Executive Order proposing it was finally rescinded by the Trump Administration.  The new program, with it’s offer of PIP rather than Deferred Action, has a stronger likelihood to succeed, based upon the PIP programs for military family members, Ukrainians, Afghans and others.

American Business Immigration Coalition  and many other business groups support this proposal. This coalition is a bipartisan group of more than 1400 diverse businesses and business associations located throughout the United States. For years, it has been advocating for work permits for long-time undocumented immigrants in the United States. As the coalition states,  “sensible immigration reform is economically important, politically smart, and morally right.”

For more information or consultation on eligibility, please contact Valentine Brown  at (215) 979-1840 or the Duane Morris immigration attorney with whom you normally work.

70% Increase in USCIS Filing Fees for H-1B, L, and O Applications on April 1, 2024

On January 30, 2024, USCIS announced that most immigration application filing fees will  increase on April 1, 2024. The increases are significant in amount and unprecedented in their reach,  leaving a strong possibility that they will be challenged in court, before they go into effect.  Employers filing I-129 Petitions to sponsor H-1B, L, and O workers will be hit especially hard, by a double whammy of increases in Premium Processing from $2500 to $2805 (going into effect on 2/26) and a mandatory $600 Asylum Program fee, (going into effect on 4/1), wmust be submitted with every I-129 form regardless of how many I-129s an employer has submitted for the same employee. Continue reading “70% Increase in USCIS Filing Fees for H-1B, L, and O Applications on April 1, 2024”

New Year, New Opportunities: Trends and Upcoming Developments in Immigration Law

2023 saw the rollout of a litany of administrative, regulatory, and executive updates and changes that touch virtually all aspects of the U.S. immigration system, with the impact of these changes expected to be felt in full force in 2024. Employers who engage in routine visa sponsorship, skilled immigrants with extensive experience in their respective fields, entrepreneurs, and investors all stand to benefit from many if not all of these changes and are well served by familiarizing themselves with these policy and regulatory changes, updated immigration trends, and the new opportunities they present. Continue reading “New Year, New Opportunities: Trends and Upcoming Developments in Immigration Law”

H-1B Lottery Begins on March 6, 2024: It’s Time to Prepare

The H-1B Lottery Registration Window Opens March 6, 2024.  The ending date of the registration will be March 22, 2024.  Employers and potential H-1B workers should determine now, whether they will enter and start preparing the necessary information and documentation for the submission. While an immigration attorney is not required for employers to submit their entries, it is highly recommended to have counsel for the process, as the USCIS online system can be confusing and prone to snafus.

Employers should consider entering any foreign workers who are on Optional Practical Training (OPT), STEM OPT, or who hold other nonimmigrant statuses, such as TN and O-1into the lottery. Evaluating the job description, salary requirements and credentials of each potential entry is important, as well as determining whether the foreign national might qualify for the master’s cap, giving them a better chance of selection. Experienced H-1B counsel can also assist in determining whether a particular candidate in a particular position, will have a successful H-1B application after being selected. Continue reading “H-1B Lottery Begins on March 6, 2024: It’s Time to Prepare”

H-1B Domestic Visa Validation Pilot Starts on January 29: How To Manual


On December 21, 2023 the Department of State published information on a pilot project to provide visa renewals in the United States.  Currently, any foreign national who needs to obtain a new U.S. visa must leave the United States to have their passport processed by a U.S. consulate abroad.  This costly, inconvenient, and unpredictable process has long been a source of frustration for visa holders, and their employers.  Below we provide details on this long awaited pilot. As strong advocates for our clients, we sincerely hope that it will be a success and will be rolled out for everyone during 2024. Continue reading “H-1B Domestic Visa Validation Pilot Starts on January 29: How To Manual”

USCIS International Entrepreneur Parole Program Gets Some Guidelines

Written By: Alejandra Vargas, Esq. and Kristopher Peters, Esq.

Some exciting news for Entrepreneurs! As part of an ongoing slate of new agency guidance regarding various immigration programs and visas, USCIS has issued comprehensive guidance regarding the International Entrepreneur Parole Program (“IEPP”). The published guidance introduces criteria for entrepreneurs who have a central and active role in a start-up U.S. company and who are seeking significant public benefit parole. The revival of the IEPP and corresponding agency guidance represents part of a series of ongoing efforts by the Biden Administration to increase and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation in the United States.

What is the IEPP?  The IEPP was first introduced under the Obama Administration in 2017 as an additional avenue to facilitate the ability of startup founders to begin growing their companies within the United States, contingent on obtaining significant financing from U.S. investors. The stated goal of the IEPP when first announced was to “identify on a case-by-case basis entrepreneurs who would provide significant public benefit, based on factors including the entrepreneur’s ownership stake and leadership role; the growth potential of the startup; competitive research grants from federal, state, and local government agencies; and investment by qualified American investors.”

Under the program, entrepreneurs who own at least 10 percent of a startup and attract at least $250,000 in financing from U.S. investors can remain in the United States for initial period of up to 30 months, with the ability to request one additional period of re-parole of up to 30 months from the date of the expiration of the initial parole period, in the agency’s discretion.

Unfortunately, although the final rule creating the IEPP was published in January 2017, the program was suspended under the Trump Administration. The Biden Administration later resurrected the rule in May 2021, but until now comprehensive guidance regarding the actual criteria for consideration and selection under the IEPP did not exist.

IEPP Criteria for Consideration under new USCIS Guidance: Under the new USCIS Guidance, the agency is updating Volume 3, Part G of the USCIS Policy Manual to describe the eligibility criteria for selection under the IEPP program that was created under the initial IE final rule in January 2017. This includes comprehensive guidance on the criteria for consideration and related definitions for the applicant, the start-up entity, qualified investment grant, or award, as well as relevant evidence that may be submitted.

To qualify for selection under the IEPP, an applicant must satisfy the following criteria:

  • The applicant must demonstrate that a grant of parole will provide a significant public benefit to the United States based on the applicant’s entrepreneurial role.
  • The applicant must have substantial ownership in the startup entity (defined to mean at least a 10% ownership interest in the start-up entity).
  • The applicant must not be primarily engaged in the offer, purchase, sale or trading of securities, futures contracts, derivatives, or similar instruments.
  • The applicant must demonstrate that the proposed startup entity:
    • Has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation
    • Was formed within the five (5) years immediately preceding the date of initial parole application; and
    • Has been lawfully doing business during any period of operation since the date of formation.
  • The applicant must obtain at least $250,000 in U.S. investment, if the application was filed before October 1, 2021, or $264,167 if the application is filed on or after October 1, 2021.
  • The financing must be good faith investment in the form of lawfully derived capital and specifically excludes investment from the entrepreneur themselves, close family and closely-held corporations.
  • The investment must come from a “qualified investor”, which is defined as a “U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States”, or a U.S.-based legal entity that is majority owned and controlled, directly and indirectly, by U.S. citizens or LPRs.

If the initial application is approved, the entrepreneur may be granted parole for both themselves and two other entrepreneurs (total of three entrepreneurs per start-up entity) for an initial period of up to 30 months, with the ability to submit a one-time request for re-parole for up to an additional 30 months from the date of expiration of the initial parole.

Other Highlights Under the New USCIS Guidance : The updated Guidance also addresses the process for the agency to adjudicate IEPP applications, how the agency evaluates whether the application will provide significant public benefit to the U.S., the conditions on parole and basis for termination, and the application process for the entrepreneur’s spouse. This includes detailing how the applicant’s spouse (but not children) may apply for work authorization after being paroled into the United States.

Additionally, the Guidance lays out the criteria for obtaining an additional parole period, including that the entrepreneur demonstrates that the re-parole will continue to provide a significant public benefit to the United States and either: (1) that the entity has received at least $528,293 in qualifying investments, (2) that the entity has created at least 5 qualified jobs during the initial parole period, or (3) that the entity has reached at least $528,293 in annual revenue in the United States and averaged 20% in annual revenue growth throughout the initial parole period.

The revival of the IEPP program and updated Guidance represents an additional avenue by which entrepreneurs can invest, live and work in the United States. This is in addition to, or alongside, other potential options including E visas (for nationals of qualifying treaty countries), O-1 visas (for individuals with an accomplished portfolio in their respective field), and others.

Please contact a member of our Immigration Group for more information about either potential eligibility for parole under the IEPP or other visa options that may be available to you.



Premium Processing Expanded to Initial NIW and Multinational Manager I-140s on January 30, 2023

USCIS has announced the final phase of Premium Processing expansion for EB-1 I-140 petitions. Starting on January 30, 2023, USCIS will accept Form I-907 applications for all pending multinational manager and executive petitions as well as National Interset Waiver (NIWs) petitions AND all initial filings for these categories. USCIS has also announced that additional Premium Processing expansions will be announced in March for F-1 students seeking work authorization throuhg Optional Practical Training (OPT) and STEM OPT. 

These announcements continue the slow roll out of addtional categores of USCIS applications in which the Premium Processing service is available.  This service costs $2500 and guarantees the applicant that USCIS will take some action on a petition with in 15 calendar days for most petitions, including I-129s and many I-140s. For NIWs and Multinational Manager I-140s USCIS has increased the time frame to 45 days.  

This is a welcome announcement for applicants and employers alike. Current procesing times for NIWs and Multinational Manager petitions can run upwards of 18 months leaving applicants in bureacratic limbo for long periods of time. However, careful consdideration must be given when deciding whether to opt for the Premium Processing Service.  Immigration practitioners and hard data both confirm that applicants who choose Premium Processing are much more likely to receive Requests for Evidence (RFE) on their petitions from USCIS.  Once an RFE is recieved, the clock stops, and does not restart again until the applicant responds to the RFE. 

More information on Premium Processing and application eligibility can be found here

Options for H-1B Workers after Employment Termination

With recent layoffs in the tech industry, H-1B and other nonimmigrant workers may find themselves stranded in the US with no work and potentially no legal immigration status.  USCIS has issued detailed information for these workers, explaining their options and some relief that may be available in certain circumstanes:

60-Day Grace Period:  Regulations permit a discretionary grace period that allows workers in E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1, O-1, or TN classifications (and their dependents) to be considered as having maintained status following the cessation of employment for up to 60 consecutive calendar days or until the end of the authorized validity period, whichever is shorter.  During this period, workers may be able to maintain their nonimmigrant status if a new employer timely files a petition on their behalf with an extension of stay request (e.g., an H-1B change of employer petition for a worker in H-1B status).

Portability:  Portability rules permit workers currently in H-1B status to begin working for a new employer as soon as the employer properly files a new H-1B petition with USCIS, without waiting for the petition to be approved.  Also, a worker with an adjustment of status application (Form I-485) that has been pending for at least 180 days with an underlying valid immigrant visa petition (Form I-140) has the ability to transfer the underlying immigrant visa petition to a new offer of employment in the same or similar occupational classification with the same or a new employer.

Change of Status and/or Employer: Workers may use the up to 60-day discretionary grace period to apply to change their nonimmigrant status, which may include changing status to become the dependent of a spouse (e.g., H-4, L-2). Some individuals in a dependent nonimmigrant status may be eligible for employment authorization incident to status, including spouses of E-1, E-2, E-3, or L-1 nonimmigrants.

There are other options available as well, depending upon individual circumstances. It is highly advisable for anyone who finds themself terminated from the employment that is underlying their nonimmigrant visa status to contact immigration counsel to review all of the legal options, and  immigration consequences of the termination.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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