Home » Opinion | Randi Zuckerberg: Immigration is about to get a lot more complicated

Opinion | Randi Zuckerberg: Immigration is about to get a lot more complicated

By Randi Zuckerberg

If you’re looking to live or work in a foreign country, you may have to stand in a long line for legal documentation. Finding out how to navigate global immigration is now more important than ever.

That’s why I support Stephanie Lewin’s work.

Stephanie Lewin is a global immigration lawyer who councils corporations around the world. She is employed by Berry Appleman & Leiden, a full-service corporate immigration law firm, and works directly with large companies, including Fortune 50 companies, as well as with small corporations and entrepreneurs.

1) What is happening with global immigration?

Changes are impacting immigration on a personal and professional level:

• Nationalization and protectionism. Brexit is a good example of this in action. There is an indecision as to what will happen with EU nationals who are not U.K. citizens or residents. Will they or won’t they have to leave the U.K.? Brexit is also causing angst with British expats who are settled in the EU and concerned about their ability to live and work in the EU. This uncertainty is impacting more than 5 million people and their livelihoods.

• The U.S. immigration system. Changes to the immigration system will happen during the Trump administration, and these changes may be imminent and have significant impact.
In 2015, Sen. Jeff Sessions wrote the Immigration Handbook for the New Republican Majority. He called for extensive immigration reform, including what he called the “Silicon Valley STEM Hoax.” He said that the shortage of American (science, technology, engineering and math) workers is a hoax and that there is actually a surplus of Americans qualified to work in STEM. With this belief, he recommends reduction in H-1B and L-1 work permits and changes to the F-1 Optional Practical Training program.

The U.S. immigration program as we know it today could be significantly impacted since H-1Bs and L-1s are the main avenues to employment in the U.S. It could also significantly reduce the numbers of foreign nationals who want to study in the U.S. if OPT is reduced or eliminated, since OPT is the avenue for foreign students to work in the U.S. after their studies. The number of foreign students in the U.S. is currently at its peak.

• Cost of doing global business at the exclusion of compliance. In 2015 and 2016, the biggest challenges I saw were employees being stopped at borders — particularly Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. These employees were traveling for business, as they have done in the past, but all of a sudden getting pulled over by the immigration authorities at the airport. The immigration authorities are enforcing country regulations and closely scrutinizing who is traveling on business and who is traveling to work.

Corporations need to be compliant in how they are managing their programs and who they are allowing to travel on what type of permit. Whether a company has a risk-averse or a risk-tolerant strategy, the company needs to ensure it is on the right side of the law; otherwise, it could have dire impact on the company and the individual employee. Business travel in lieu of obtaining a work permit, while cost-effective from a standpoint of saving money on assignments and work permits, is not a compliant solution.

2) What’s your advice for companies regarding their immigration programs?

• Compliance is key. Regardless of the risk tolerance, following the local rules and regulations when traveling for business or work is vital. More countries are starting to link police records, entry and exit records and financial records, so a more complete profile of each individual is available each time the person crosses the border.

• Hire experts to run your program. Currently, the trend is for companies to hire employees with little to no experience to run their internal immigration programs. There is so much complexity in immigration at the moment. These employees are essentially being set up to fail, because they have so little experience and immigration is a tough field to navigate.

• Audit your current program. Employers in the U.S. who sponsor employees are going through H cap season right now in preparation to submit H applications before the deadline on April 1. It is very important to determine what will happen if an individual does not receive an H and if there are alternate options to obtain immigration status within and outside of the U.S. Some countries, like the U.K., may be more challenging to obtain a work permit for than they have been in the past as a plan B. Also, coming back to the U.S. may not be an option under the L program if changes are made to the program under the Trump administration. A lot is at stake, and all alternatives, short- and long-term, should be considered to keep the employee population mobile and ready to work as needed.


Randi Zuckerberg is the founder of Zuckerberg Media, a best-selling author and the host of a weekly business show on SiriusXM, “Dot Complicated.” To find out more about Randi Zuckerberg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM