Director of Launchpad USA, Amcham Finland
Shareholder and Immigration Attorney, Ogletree Deakins
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Please contact Mike Klyszeiko if you need help finding a good immigration attorney or if you simply have questions about doing business in America.
Click below to contact Ceri Koski, Amcham Finland’s U.S. Specialist on U.S. immigration:
What’s going on?
On June 22nd U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he will suspend processing new applications for H1B, J-1 and L work visas effective June 24th. The proclamation will remain in effect until December 31, 2020, including a possible 60-day extension after that time.
As the leading authority on transatlantic business in Finland, Amcham has reached out to our U.S. Specialist network in America for their input on what this may mean for your company.
What does this mean for your Finnish company or your international company with operations in the U.S.?
Ceri Koski, Shareholder and Immigration Attorney at U.S. law firm Ogletree Deakins, told us, “To some degree, this proclamation leverages conditions created by COVID-19 because U.S. consular services have been suspended for months and nobody has been able to apply for H-1B or L-1B (or J or H-2B) visas.”
The L visa is used by many business executives in Finland to enter the United States and manage or establish their company’s operations. The good news is that you are not impacted if you already hold a valid L visa. Ceri says, “Visa holders already in the U.S. can remain and continue to work and extend their visa status in-country if eligible, and I would recommend avoiding international travel from the U.S. for those visa holders if possible.”
However, you should think of other options if you have submitted an L visa application recently or were planning to do so this year.
What are possible solutions?
The first and most obvious option would be to apply for an E visa, the treaty investor visa.
Koski believes E-2 visas are a great alternative to L-1s and H-1Bs if the company and employee qualify. It appears that this proclamation opens E visa opportunities, despite a previous proclamation suggesting they will also be restricted.
This has been confirmed by us with staff at the United States Embassy in Finland. Embassy officials told us that they also interpreted this new proclamation in the same way.
It is important to remind you that at the time of this publication, U.S. Consular services are not permitted to process non-immigrant working visas. Furthermore, the travel ban from the Schengen Area countries and its citizens into the U.S. is still in effect. Both restrictions must be lifted before any type of visa application is processed.
When Consular services are reopened, it is our belief that E visas will be given priority over other visas, as they are vital for cross-border investment flows.
In summary, if you are planning to travel to America for the purposes of establishing your U.S. business, we recommend preparing an E visa application. The screening process is quite rigorous, so we advise you to seek legal counsel to assist in preparing the application. We also recommend against making plans to travel to the United States until Q3 of this year at the soonest, and mostly likely later than that.