Another year in the world of global immigration is in the books! Immigration is constantly changing, and mobility professionals are always learning how to navigate changing regulations, government changes and more.
To recap these changes and look ahead to 2023, we sat down with Addie Hogan (Founding Partner, Corporate Immigration Partners), Christina Elder (Managing Attorney, Global Immigration Associates) and Brendan Coggan (SVP Global Services, Envoy Global and Founding Partner at CIP).
Our conversation discussed topics such as:
- Changes to U.S. immigration in 2022.
- How other countries, including the U.K. and Canada, are improving their immigration systems.
- Lessons from 2022
- Looking ahead to 2023
Catch up on this webinar by viewing and listening to the recording, which you can access here:
Below is a portion of our conversation with Hogan, Elder and Coggan. It has been edited for clarity.
What were some notable happenings in U.S. immigration in 2022?
Hogan: I'll start first where DHS expanded the STEM program. And this is relevant because, and we'll talk a little bit about this later in some proposed legislation and what might happen legislatively for immigration, but traditionally we haven't seen a comprehensive immigration reform in a long time. So things generally get done piecemeal with US immigration. And so this first one, adding additional fields of study to the STEM program is pretty significant…it's significant in the big picture of immigration because H-1Bs are so hard to come by. People will apply three years in a row and won't get selected. The selection rate for the last few years has been 30% or less. So having these additional fields will give these foreign students additional time to continue to work in the U.S.
Elder: I would say that the sort of biggest event that has really impacted immigration policy is the war in Ukraine, unfortunately. And that has led to the designation of temporary protected status for people from Ukraine. There are several countries that have already been designated for a TPS, which can be available when someone is coming from a country that's experiencing some type of crisis such as a natural disaster or a war.
Right now, TPS is designated for Ukraine through October 19th, 2023. And at the same time, this is an addition to the Uniting for Ukraine Humanitarian Parole Program that has already been provided to Ukrainian nationals that involve more Americans who can volunteer to sponsor someone from Ukraine to receive parole. And both of those designations come with the opportunity to apply for work authorization.
I actually also saw that a couple of weeks ago, people who qualify for the parole program can work for up to 90 days while they wait for their EAD, which is a great benefit because sometimes they can take a little while to get that employment authorization document.
Brendan, a lot has happened when it comes to global immigration. But let's start with one of the biggest stories and that's the war in Ukraine and the resulting refugee movement. Can you walk us through: how countries have responded and how employers have responded?
Coggan: I think when talking about what we saw in immigration from the geopolitical circumstances there and the war in Ukraine is really a few things. First, how do employers, and how do governments mobilize quickly to make options and to make circumstances safer for employees?
It really was about the ability to do business and making sure that your people are safe, and that translating to what is possible from an immigration perspective and what's possible from an employment perspective. And so some of the things that really come out of that are new, sort of creative, out-of-the-box ways of looking at getting people from one place to another and in circumstances that previously there's been other refugee crises in the past. But each one is unique in and of itself depending on which countries are implicated and what you're trying to do.
In terms of the practical realities for what transpired out of the war in Ukraine, governments opening up, actual work authorization opportunities for folks, by virtue of EU resolutions, by virtue of tweaks to currently existing immigration regimes to ensure that things can be turned around quickly.
And by virtue of expedited processing of just if you fit in this category, if you're a Ukrainian national and you need to get somewhere, we're going to prioritize your application, we're going to process it quickly and you're not subject to those kinds of wait times. So, depending on what the destination was, oftentimes other countries in Europe were prime examples, but other countries operated similarly. Canada is a great example, [they] expedited processing for Ukrainian nationals to get folks over quickly. Other locations in Asia as well, in APAC.
Really, what we saw was countries looking for ways that were legally authorized but still opened the doors and were a creative way of getting folks into the country quickly and safely.
As we approach this new year, what do you hope to see from U.S. and global immigration?
Elder: So while this can sound largely symbolic, I think it is very meaningful that in the past administration, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) removed their statement that they're devoted to customer service. And I think that I would like to see, and I think we are seeing to some extent, a return to having more respect and care for the customers who do invest thousands of dollars in their processes.
I'm really hopeful that that will continue as USCIS states that it's trying to clear its backlog. And we have seen that to some extent; 2022 had the highest green card approval rate, I think of any year and the highest naturalization rate of any year. I think that gives me some hope for the future, for sure.
Coggan: A bit more of settling down, really of the space. Things have been turbulent and people have been on edge. There's been a lot going on in the global sphere in the last couple of years and that's translated to immigration, and not just the ability to do immigration, but attitudes towards immigration and of the kind of things that come with it.
So really, in terms of the hopes, a little bit more of a normalization of things that we were seeing pre-pandemic especially. Maybe that's too hopeful. There's always something. But I'm hoping going forward that things become a little bit more predictable, a little bit less on the sporadic change side, and something more that folks can come to rely on as being the status quo. So we'll see if that ends up happening. It could go either way really, but that's really the hope for 2023.
Hogan: I'm going to have to take a little bit both from Christina and Brendan because I like what they both said, but I love the customer service part. And it goes in also with what Brendan said, the predictability, just having our immigration system be a little bit more predictable, which allows us to partner with you and with the employees and the foreign nationals on just what they can expect. And as much as we can without an overhaul of legislation, at least a little bit on the customer service side.
Learn more about how Envoy Global can you help navigate the changing immigration landscape in 2023.
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