US Headlines: Potential Government Shutdown This Thursday / Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Extended for Syrians
Global Headlines: China Extends Visa Validity for Foreign Nationals with Chinese Heritage / UK Doubles Healthcare Fees for Foreign Nationals / Thailand Targets the “S-Curve” with New Visa Program
Feature Story: White House Immigration Proposal and Other Congressional Proposals
Premium February 15-21- “Golden Week” for Lunar New Year, celebrated in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Expect office closures and corresponding delays.
Another Government Shutdown Possible Thursday. This week, Congress must pass another spending bill to prevent a second government shutdown. The House plans to vote today on a short-term spending bill to keep the government funded until March 22, but it is unclear if it will pass. Adding to the pressure of a possible shut down, the House is scheduled for a shortened week as House Democrats head to their annual legislative retreat Wednesday through Friday. A spending bill needs to be cleared by February 8 to prevent another shutdown.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Extended for Syrians. The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security announced January 31 that TPS would be extended for Syrians who entered the U.S. prior to August 1, 2016. This exempts almost 6,000 Syrians from deportation. The Trump administration has recently moved to dramatically scale back the number of people eligible for TPS status, ending TPS for 50,000 Haitians and 200,000 El Salvadorians. In response, Democrats want TPS for El Salvador to be part of any immigration deal that proceeds.
Alexa Early, Attorney
China Extends Visa Validity for Foreign Nationals with Chinese Heritage. China has recently introduced a new 5-year visa program available to foreigners of Chinese ethnicity. The Ministry of Public Security announced that the visa allows temporary residence and multiple entries and exits within this period. The extension was enacted to boost China’s economic development, explore cultural exchange, and allow greater flexibility for personal travel to and from the country. There are no limits as to how far back an individual can go to claim their Chinese heritage as long as they can submit positive documentary evidence.
UK Doubles Healthcare Fees for Foreign Nationals. The United Kingdom requires foreign nationals to pay for healthcare as a requirement for immigration applications. The government has announced a plan to double the upfront Immigrant Health Surcharge from £200 to £400 per year for individuals outside the European Economic Area who are seeking to live or extend their temporary status in the UK for six months or more. Other classifications such as asylum seekers and refugees remain exempt from this increase. Health minister James O’Shaughnessy has emphasized that the higher fees are not meant to deter immigration, but rather to take the burden off of British taxpayers to ensure healthcare costs are fairly distributed.
Thailand Targets the “S-Curve” with New Visa Program. Effective February 1, Thailand’s SMART Visa now offers a four-year validity to highly-skilled foreign workers, executives, and investors in 10 targeted industries. The Board of Investment program is aimed at improving its “S-Curve” industries, including next-generation automotive works; smart electronics; agriculture and biotechnology; automation and robotics; aviation and logistics; biofuels and biochemicals; and the medical hub. In response to the diversity of industries set to benefit from this program, the SMART visa is broken down into four sub-categories. The first preference is awarded to specialists in scientific fields which have the greatest shortages of workers, while the remaining groups are similar to the US’s EB-5 program, with visas being awarded to investors based on the size of the investment, as well as high profile executives set to work throughout the S-Curve.
Miatrai Brown, Attorney
Feature Story: Government Shutdown Ends; Countdown Begins Again With Immigration Push in Senate
In last Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Trump urged Congress to turn the White House’s framework into a bill. President Trump emphasized the “Four Pillar” plan in his speech, including: increasing border security funding ($25 billion trust fund for the border wall system), limiting family-based immigration sponsorship to only spouses and minor children, and terminating the diversity visa, in exchange for allowing 1.8 million DACA recipients to get legal status and eventually citizenship. It appears President Trump’s attempts at reaching a compromise on immigration will fail as Democrats booed at the mention of eliminating family reunification sponsorship for adult children, parents and siblings. Some Republicans were upset President Trump went back on his “no amnesty” pledge during his campaign.
Yesterday, Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Christopher Coons introduced a bipartisan compromise that would protect DACA recipients from being deported, provide a pathway to citizenship, alleviate the backlog in immigration courts, and provide new border security measures without funding for a wall. The legislation is a companion to a bill introduced by House representatives Will Hurd and Pete Aguilar which has 54 co-sponsors. However, President Trump tweeted that “[A]ny deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time.”
Some Republicans have backed the bill proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte last month. Representative Goodlatte’s bill is mostly in line with President Trump’s immigration plan.
Ultimately any bill or budget passed by Congress must be signed by the President.
Congress and President Trump are under pressure to pass a budget, which may include a short-term or long-term solution to immigration by February 8 to keep the Federal government from shutting down. EIG will continue to diligently monitor the situation and provide real-time updates.
Kane Vongsavanh, Attorney
Jeff DeCruz, Aisha Farooq, Christina Holtz, and Theresa Meehan