The US Congress had passed several key legislations this year which is now heading towards the White House for the Signature. There are many important provisions that put an impact on both the immigrant and non immigrant community.
Many important terms of the so called omnibus spending bill would affect the visa free travel, requirement of e-passport, EB-5 investors and H-1B and L-1 dependent employers.
The important provisions were strict requirements on Visa Waiver Program (VWP), need of e- passports of all the VWP travelers, extending the EB-5 program and E-Verify Program till 30th September 2016 and increasing the filing fees for L-1 and H-1B visa petitions.
The bill for Visa Waiver Program was passed on 8th December, 2015, that includes additional restrictive passport needs and other standards of security for the VWP. Citizens of some nations who had traveled to Iraq or Syria would be denied to use this VWP. They need to go through the personal interview and get the visa on their passports at the US embassy abroad before arriving to the US.
The bill needs all the VWP tourists to get an e-passport with biometric enabled chip by 1st April 2016. The bill also needs all the VWP nations to put the mechanisms for validating these e-passports by 1st October 2016. The VWP tourists who presently do not have e-passport would require applying for the fresh passport for meeting this criterion. This might importantly impact all the travel to the US by the citizens of any VWP nation.
The bill also extends the EB-5 program till 30th September 2016, with no such important changes. The present EB-5 investment needs would stay in place for one more year. The E-Verify Program is also extended till September 2016.
Another bill doubled the filing fee for the firms that had a minimum of 50 workers with 50% of them holding the H-1B visa or L-1 visa. Such firms will now have to pay a fresh fee of $4000 for H-1B and $4500 for L-1 visa petitions.