Shifting Tides in Immigration in 2018: What Are They?

Last Updated on March 2, 2023

Last year, we saw changes in policy, practice and rhetoric. The outlook for 2018 is similar, with tougher restrictions being proposed. Here are some of the shifting tides in immigration we could see (and one we’ve already seen) in 2018:

REAL ID Act in effect

You may have recently seen signs in airports across the U.S. for this 13-year-old legislation. The REAL ID Act establishes a set of minimum requirements for identification used to board federally regulated aircrafts as well as entering federal buildings and nuclear power plants. Though the act was passed in 2005, enforcement went into effect at all airports as of January 22, 2018.

Some states are in compliance with the law already, and travelers from those states should carry their federally-compliant ID with them when traveling by air. There are some states, including California, Illinois and New York, that have filed for an extension until they can roll out full compliance by 2020.

At the moment, American Samoa is the only one among all American states and territories that is not in compliance with, or in an extension period for, the REAL ID Act, and federal agencies won’t accept driver’s licenses and ID cards from American Samoa. A list of accepted identification from TSA is available here.

H-1B visa bill

In November 2017, a bill aimed at changing some of the requirements of the H-1B visa passed a preliminary committee in the House of Representatives. We could hear more about the contents of this bill in 2018, which could change reporting requirements and redefine terms like “H-1B-dependent” company.

H-4 work permits

Work authorization for spouses of H-1B visa holders, currently part of the H-4 dependent program, could be revoked this year, according to a statement the Trump administration made in December 2017. The H-4 visa program has permitted some spouses of H-1B workers in the process of obtaining permanent residence to obtain employment authorization since 2015.

TN visa changes

Among the shifting tides in immigration, the category of Economist under the NAFTA TN visa occupation list is now being interpreted in a stricter manner.

In December 2017 USCIS announced that the TN Economist category will no longer be available to financial analyst, market research analyst or marketing specialist occupations, as well as other occupations that are related to economics.TN Economist category is still available to professionals who fall within the traditional definition of economist as defined by the Department of Labor.

The three countries are also currently in their seventh round of NAFTA negotiations.

What can employers do to prepare? Tune into our Riding the Shifting Tides of Immigration in 2018 webinar replay to learn more.