President Obama’s executive action may benefit business immigration

image of United States flag with business people

Business owners should be prepared to take advantage of President Obama’s impending executive action on immigration. One of the less discussed “points” of the administration’s plan is to increase the number of visas issued to migrants with advanced degrees.  This apparent nod to the tech community’s recent political pressure, however, benefits all businesses in need of skilled employees, not simply tech companies.

Businesses of all types can use these additional visas to hire a qualified foreign national for any position that requires an advanced degree.

Further, this executive action stands on much firmer legal ground than the often maligned extension of “deferred action” for “illegals.”  That said, the expansion of “deferred action” will also likely benefit business.

Most believe the executive order will expand the current deferred action program to undocumented parents of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents.  Such individuals will be entitled to apply for work authorization and social security numbers.  And like the previous deferred action in 2012, to qualify for this new grant of deferred action, applicants will likely need to prove that they have lived continuously in the United States for at least the past five years.  It is naïve to think that this entire group of potential lawful workers — estimated to be up to five million people — provide only unskilled labor.  Rather, this group likely includes highly skilled, undocumented workers who currently attempt to veil their lack of status by working as independent contractors or sole proprietors.  Savvy businesses will identify these key workers who already benefit their business, and assist in them in acquiring deferred action.

The President’s executive action may very well increase the availability of highly skilled workers to the business community, resulting as a real business opportunity.

Brad Banias, a former United States Department of Justice immigration litigation attorney, has a nationwide, federal court immigration litigation practice at Barnwell Whaley in Charleston, South Carolina.  Mr. Banias is chair of the Federal Litigation Section of the Carolinas Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and is a regular contributor to the AILA Voice.