Trump requirements for H1B and L1 US visa holders mean mandatory face to face interviews for US Green Cards


Donald Trump

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L1 visa and H1B visa holders and other non-immigrant visa holders will need to attend an in person interview in order to gain employment based permanent residence, also known as a US Green Card, as part of Donald Trump's 'extreme vetting' of immigrants.

The new policy will affect anyone holding a temporary non-mmigrant employment based US visa, which means R and O visa holders will also be affected in addition to L1 and H1B visa holders, and will take effect from October 1, said USCIS Director James McCament on Friday.

Sanwar Ali comments:

It is typically very difficult and time consuming to apply for an employment based immigrant visa.   Under the US visa system you need to meet specific requirements for a "green card".  The benefit of already being on a non-immigrant visa in the US is that hopefully employers are more willing to wait what can be years for the processing of an employment based immigrant visa usually under the EB1, EB2, or EB3 visa schemes.  In many cases employers have to apply for labor certification to show that there are no US citizens or residents who can fill the vacancy.

How L1 and H1B holders apply for a Green Card

The L1 and H1B are both dual intent visas, which means visa holders can work in the US while applying for permanent residence. L1 visa holders who have worked for the business outside the US for one year in the last three years as an executive or manager are likely to apply for a Green Card through the EB1C immigrant scheme as an international executive or manager.  , H1B visa holders are more likely to come under the EB2 Green Card or EB3 Green Card visa routes.

It is already difficult in most cases to gain initial entry on an H1B specialty visa.  The H1B visa is available in April each year to start in October in the same year.  In recent years it is heavily oversubscribed with a lottery for the available visas.  Making it even more difficult to obtain an employment based immigrant visa will be an additional burden for employers and overseas workers in the US.  

One short term solution that is popular with many employers is the B1 business visitor visa in lieu of an H1B.  There is no quota for this visa category which allows entry for six months for specialty level work.  With increasing difficulties in obtaining non-immigrant and immigrant visas under the Trump administration, this visa may very well become even more popuular in future.

Another way of gaining a US Green Card is to first apply for a US E2 Treaty Investor non-immigrant Visa, and then applying for a Green Card while in the US,perhaps under an EB5 immigrant investor Green Card.  The EB5 immigrant investor scheme is probably too expensive for most immigrants in the US.   If you meet the nationality requirements the E2 visa scheme requires a much smaller investment requirement than the EB5 scheme.   Unfortunately, Indian and Chinese nationals are not eligible to come under the E2 visa scheme.

Other US visa holders affected

Any Green Card applicants with family members who are refugees or in receipt of asylum status will also need to attend an interview.

In the 2015 financial year approximately 122,000 immigrants moved from and employment based visa, such as an L1 or H1B, to a Green Card, reports Politico.

Other US visa categories, such as the E1 Treaty Trader and E2 Treaty Investor, may eventually be subject to the same rules. Speaking to Politico, USCIS spokesperson Cater Langston said there will be an 'incremental expansion' in the number of visa categories which will require an in person Green Card interview.

The policy is "part of a comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and security risks to the United States," Langston added.

In person interviews have been present in US Green Card rules for some time, but the requirement is usually waived, according to former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association William Stock. “The immigration service realized that most of the time it was a colossal waste of everyone’s time,” he said.

The new interviews will almost certainly increase Green Card waiting times, which already often run over 6 months. can help with US employment-based visas

If you would like to apply for a US work visa – including L1 visas, E1 and E2 visas, and H1B visas - can help. is a specialist visa consultancy with over twenty nine years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Please feel free to contact us for further details.