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How Trump may change immigration policy for student and work visas

Prodigy Finance - October 28, 2019

US immigration policy changes for student and work visas

Green cards and student and work visa policies in the US have changed throughout history.

But political tensions and President Donald Trump’s proposed immigration changes have you wondering if foreign nationals and non-US citizens will be temporarily or permanently restricted from working, studying, and living in the U.S.

There’s a lot to dig into when it comes to Trump’s immigration policy and how it'll affect you. But let’s first take a look at the different types of visas required for non-citizens. 

US visas for international students

If you plan to study in the US as a non-citizen, you'll need to obtain a visa. The type you apply for depends on your study or training plans while in the country.

It’s important to understand that these are non-immigrant visas that allow you to enter and stay in the country for a specific time. You're obligated to leave the country before it expires or to legally and officially extend your right to remain.

Here are the visas available for international students:

  • F-1 visas: A common visa for academic studies. This visa allows students to work during their stays.
  • J-1 visas: For students who want practical training in a field or programme that’s not available in their home countries. J-1 holders can work during their stays.
  • M-1 visas: Relatively restrictive, non-academic or vocational studies visas. M-1 student applicants must provide proof that they can pay all tuition and housing costs for the length of their stays. Work is not permissible on this visa.

US visas for non-citizen workers

If you’re interested in coming to or remaining in the US to gain work experience, you can obtain temporary citizenship through a work visa, or H-1B visa.

This is also a non-immigrant visa that typically allows a 3- to 6-year stay, while working for a sponsoring employer. Once the visa expires you must either return to your home country or receive employer sponsorship for permanent residency.

What you need to know about Green Cards, and how to get one

A Green Card, also known as a “permanent residency card,” gives non-US citizens authorisation to live and work in the US permanently, without limits.

There are a number of ways to obtain a Green Card, including:

  • Through family or marriage.
  • Employment.
  • A lottery system.
  • Other special conditions.

How Trump’s immigration policy changes can impact student visa holders

International students who are given the privilege to study in the US have always been subject to meeting certain rules and restrictions, such as the requirement to maintain a full course load.

However, new and proposed policy changes under the Trump administration have raised a few concerns for prospective and current international students. While some policies are still in the proposal stage, we’re already feeling the effects of others.

Here are some of the changes international students may already be experiencing, or may start experiencing soon:

  • An increase in application fees by 22% to 75%, depending on the visa type, as of June 2019).
  • New penalties for people who violate visa rules. Penalties include being barred from re-entry to the US for 3 to 10 years if they stay in the US for a short length of time with an expired visa. (Under the current policy, students can go back to their home country, apply or update their visa, and then return to the US immediately.)
  • More scrutiny on permit programmes that would give students the ability to work in the US after graduation 

What immigration policy changes mean for visa holders working in the US

As difficult as studying in the US is now proving to be, staying in the US to work is also appearing to be getting harder.

In fact, according to data from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), “denial rates for H-1B petitions have increased significantly, rising from 6% in 2015 to 32% in the first quarter of 2019 for new H-1B petitions for initial employment," primarily because the USCIS and its adjudicators have raised the standard of proof for approving an H1-B petition.”

The Trump administration’s spring 2017 executive order also encouraged employers to “hire American,” in an effort to create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the US.

This order also resulted in a modified lottery system, which may make it more difficult to win a spot to obtain an H-1B visa.  

Trump immigration policy changes coming soon

October 15, 2019 is the proposed date for the enactment of the “public charge rule.”

A “public charge” is defined as someone who “primarily depends on the government for survival.” Under this rule, immigration officials would look at various factors to decide if someone was likely to become a public charge and can deny them a visa application based on this prediction.

If you’re looking to work or study in the US, it’s important to understand these factors, so you can prepare ahead.

What factors can make you a potential “public charge”?

  • Being under 18 (because this is younger than the minimum age for full-time employment) or older than the 61 (the minimum retirement age).
  • Having dependents.
  • A poor credit score.
  • Medical conditions.
  • An inability to cover “reasonably foreseeable medical costs” (which are determined by immigration officials, not visa applicants).

How current and prospective visa holders can prepare for US immigration policy changes

Don’t let new and proposed immigration policy changes get in the way of your dreams of studying or working in the US. While some regulation changes may make it more difficult to obtain a visa, there are still plenty of opportunities that exist.

Understanding these changes and preparing ahead of time is the best way to avoid any hurdles. Until then, you may wish to get started with the financial building blocks that can improve your chances of obtaining a visa and help you fulfill your dream to study, work, or live in the US.  

Open a local bank account

A local bank account will help you save on cash conversions and enable you to start building credit—but you need to make sure you’re armed with the right documents and paperwork. Learn more about opening a bank account here

Start building credit in the US

Good credit is important not only for keeping your visa, but also for renting an apartment, buying a car and, in some cases, even getting the job you want. If you have an H-1B or F-1 visa, there’s quite a bit you can do to build your credit.

Stay informed about immigration policy changes, regulations and visa requirements

While the current and proposed Trump immigration policies may impact the requirements and timelines of obtaining a visa, it’s more important to stay informed and be prepared.

Don’t give up on your dreams to study or work in the US. The best way to prepare for any upcoming immigration policy changes is to keep an eye on the news and government websites, such as the Bureau of Consular Affairs or the Department of Homeland Security. Knowing what to expect and how it can affect your ability to study and work in the US can help you prepare ahead.

Work on getting your finances in order, stay ahead of any paperwork that could compromise your visa and keep an eye on any upcoming policy changes that may impact your current or future work and study opportunities in the US. A little preparation can go a long way. 

Start your financial future off on the right foot

Now's the time to consider how you'll finance your international education. Prodigy Finance can help. Funding international master's students is what we do. And that means we understand your unique background and circumstances, and are equipped to help you succeed.

Do you dream of studying your master's in the US?

Once you get into the programme of your dreams, we can help you out with the financing you need to pay for your international education - and secure your study visa.

Prodigy Finance Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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