Yes. U.S. employment visas weren’t easy to get before Trump. Expect them to be harder to get now. Here are a few to consider IF you have at least a Bachelors Degree and are highly skilled. The more skilled and educated you are, the better, but it will still be difficult and slow.
EB-2 – Advanced Degree workers: the job must require an advanced degree i.e. a masters degree or doctorate, and you must possess such a degree or its equivalent (a baccalaureate degree plus 5 years progressive work experience in the field); or show “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts, or business.
EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW): This is an important category to consider if your work has national importance and would benefit the U.S. The advantage of the NiW is that you can file the petition yourself. Unlike most employment visas, you do not need a job offer and you do not have to go through the lengthy labor certification requirements to show no U.S. worker can be found for the position. The requirements for this visa changed significantly after an appeals case in December 2016 (Matter of Dhansar 26 I&N Dec. 884 (AAO)) and it now appears NIWs are more available to entrepreneurs and the self-employed. Post-doctoral J-1 scholars and H-1B visa holders in the U.S. can both apply if their qualifications merit this waiver.
EB-3 – Professionals who possess a U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign degree equivalent, or skilled workers with at least 2 years of job experience or training, or unskilled workers or other workers performing unskilled labor (requiring less than 2 years training or experience), that is not of a temporary or seasonal nature.
The above visas grant a green card or lawful permanent residence to the applicant. The below H-1B does not grant a green card but may enable the worker to get one eventually. H-1B have been in the news quite a bit and are controversial because some companies have abused the category to hire foreign workers at lower salaries than they were paying U.S. workers. The current abuses are primarily caused by Indian outsourcing companies who pay at least $60,000 as required, and who get H-1Bs for their workers outsourced workers who then go to the US and displace US workers earning more. The Disney company was sued by former employees who alleged this. President Trump and several lawmakers are reviewing and proposing changes to the program.
H-1B Specialty Occupation: the prospective employer petitions for the worker, who must have at least a bachelors degree or its equivalent; the degree requirement is common to the industry in similar positions; the employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position, or the nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with earning a bachelors or higher degree. There is an annual quota of 65,000 H-1Bs with bachelors degrees and an additional 20,000 visas for those with more advanced degrees. Spouses of H-1Bs are not permitted to work.
H-1B workers must be paid the higher of the actual wage paid by the employer or the prevailing wage for the occupation in which the H-1B worker is employed in the geographic area of intended employment. There are many more rules and requirements. Some apply specifically to companies with a high percentage of H-1B workers, known as “H-1B Dependent Employers.” Such employers have to provide additional “attestations” or promises regarding non-displacement of US workers and more. BUT the attestations don’t apply if the employer pays the worker without a masters degree at least $60,000. The $60,000 threshold hasn’t changed since 2000 when it went into effect. Legislators have proposed raising this to at least $100,000.
This is not an easy area of immigration law to navigate on your own. If you have a bachelors or higher degree, and are interested in one of these visas, we strongly advise you to seek legal advice.