An Opinion Piece by Kelly Brackley: The Trump Effect - Get Filing Those Immigration Applications

To the great surprise of many, Donald Trump, founder of The Apprentice reality show, was elected President by the United States on November 9th, 2016. Despite no background in politics, he defeated the Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton. No matter what your political stance is on the subject, it marks a day in history. Arguably another prime example of the protest vote, Brexit-like, a vote against the establishment.

What has Trump said on US Immigration?

President-elect Trump has made many remarks on immigration, his main focus being on deporting the undocumented and building a wall between the US and Mexico, paid for by Mexico! He has pledged to commence the process of “removing the more than two million criminal, illegal immigrants,” repeal Obama's “amnesty” executive orders, triple the number of Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) Officers, with the prime objective of prioritising jobs, wages and the security of US citizens.

He is surrounded by Republicans who have fairly strong anti-immigration views, such as Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Secretary of State of Kansas, Kris Kobach. In January 2017, the nation's political leadership will turn very much Republican, with not only the White House but also both houses of Congress won by Republicans.

What is likely to happen?

Initially – likely very little at all. Of course no one actually knows what will happen, but it is likely that Trump will seek to remove undocumented immigrants that have criminal records. Two million that he quoted is inaccurate, since there are allegedly 178,000 undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

Tripling the number of ICE officers will cost billions. Where is he going to get the money from? Nice plan, without any thought on how this will be paid for. Without the increase in ICE officers and money spent on detaining “criminal” immigrants, how can this be achieved? Of course he can try, but he's unlikely to be able to justify the amount of money that is required in order to achieve this. Likewise regarding the wall, although apparently Mexico will pay for it!

I have no doubt that Obama's Executive Orders will be repealed. They were a short-term plan until comprehensive immigration reform was achieved. So it doesn't look good for the undocumented immigrants, particularly those with a criminal record. I do not envisage that it will have a huge impact on any of our typical clients.

What is likely to happen to Corporate/Business/Investment Immigration?

This is the tricky one as no one knows what will happen, but it is my opinion that Trump and the Republican's primary focus, will be on deporting undocumented “illegal” immigrants from the US.

Trump does talk about keeping jobs for Americans, so he is unlikely to want to increase the number of available H-1B work visas for instance. This is already capped and makes it very difficult for US companies to directly hire foreign national employees.

From a fiscal Republican standpoint, I cannot see him having a problem with most corporate immigration, to include the expansion of business to the US (L-1 intra-company transfer visas) and encouraging an increase in trade and investment in the US (E-1/E-2 Treaty Trade/Investment visas, as well as EB-5 Investment Green Cards).

The speculation is that Trump will likely come down hard on the L-1B Specialized Knowledge and E-2/E-1 Essential Employee visas. What makes this individual better than an American employee? As an Immigration Attorney, I have generally faced this anyway, so we as a firm are prepared to know what qualifies an employee of a company for these types of visas.

I do not think that we will see much of a change to the E-1 Treaty Trader or E-2 Treaty Investor visa qualifications. This should also be the same for an L-1A Executive or Manager, particularly for new businesses, that require this executive or managerial knowledge of the parent company for US expansion.

In light of not knowing how immigration will be effected come 2017, our advice is to file those applications ASAP. Get the approval you require prior to any changes in immigration law, or behaviour by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Consulate. In my opinion, however, I do not think our current and future clients will be greatly effected by President Trump. I do not believe that he holds such an anti-immigration position regarding businesses expanding to the US or individuals/organisations investing in the US. 

If you would like to speak to an experienced US Immigration Lawyer regarding a US visa, please call us on +44 (0)203 102 7966 or email