The Trump administration disclosed new immigration set up last month, leaving many ESTA, H-1B, Tourists, and lottery visa applicants curious on what will happen moving forward.
People from countries within the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) find it annoying having to apply for the ESTA. Let’s face it; no one loves travel paperwork. You’re told you don’t need a visa, but the ESTA document is a form of a visa anyway. Why?
There’s an interview process, and you must familiarize yourself with the questions they’ll ask. At least you’ll be prepared when the time comes.
While this is happening, H-1B visa denials have skyrocketed sharply. According to research conducted by the National Foundation for American Policy, H-1B visa denials—especially for new employment—is increasingly being denied.
The president is one of the most vocal critics of the H1-B initiative. He says employers are abusing it and that it has driven down wages for the average American worker. In 2016, he signed an executive order dubbed “Buy American and Hire American” which consequently in the USCIS elevating the requirements for issuing H1-B petitions, albeit being illegal.
What does this tell us about immigrating into the U.S.?
Whether you’re on course to obtain legal citizenship, ESTA documentation, tourist or any other related visa, you’ll be subjected to a lot of scrutinies moving forward. Chances of being denied entry into the United States are now high.
President Trump’s administration has proposed a raft of changes in immigration laws, which are detailed here. But before that, let’s take a deeper look at ESTA, shall we?
So, Why, ESTA?
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is a required document for all those coming from jurisdictions within the visa waiver program (VWP). It allows the holder to travel to the U.S. without the troubles associated with a visa application.
You can apply for your ESTA Online, but there are a few exceptions.
Generally, ETSA is meant to make travel to America easier for those coming from VWP. Why? It offers security agencies (mainly the Department of Homeland Security) the data they need to establish whether you’re a risk to the country.
Though many people still find it bureaucratic, you wouldn’t face significant trouble applying for the ETSA online. It’s much easy compared to a visa application. As long as you meet the minimum requirements set by the immigration department, your application will be approved.
However, be keen and go through your application to ascertain there’re no blank spaces or typos, and your name should be as it appears on your passport. Failure to do so will result in your application being denied.
Let’s take a look at the president’s proposed changes to the immigration laws, shall we?
Trump’s Proposed Changes to Visa Laws & Policy
The president’s proposal is anchored on two issues:
-An infrastructure component, which focuses on constructing the border wall and revamping security within our borders
-a shift from the family-based approach, to merit-based criteria.
What the changes mean to an average visa applicant
The president is keen to allow admission for skilled workers but remains tight-lipped on issues touching on temporary entry like H1-B visa program, DACA, and ESTA. There are illegal immigrants in the U.S, which is a fact. Some have been granted temporary permissions to live and work in the country.
Though they are permitted to stay in America, they have no legitimate way of acquiring legal citizenship. They end up living in some sort of immigration limbo as they are unable to fully integrate into American society.
Another major concern among international travelers is the validity of the ESTA. How long does it last? If you’re eligible for ESTA you can apply by filing an ETSA form online (also called the VWP application form).
Upon submitting your application form, it’ll take a few days to review. In some cases, it may take weeks before receiving a response.
After that, you’ll be notified about the status of your application. In most cases, applicants will receive the good news that their application was approved. This means that you can now enjoy visa-free travel to America. And from this moment, your ESTA is valid for two years.
POINT TO NOTE: your ESTA is valid only if your passport is valid. What does it mean? Immediately you receive your ESTA; it remains valid until when your passport expires—that is if the expiry date is less than two years.
Another area of concern is refugee admissions. The proposed changes to the immigration law don’t talk about reviewing the refugee admission limits. In 2019, the cap is 30,000, which is at its lowest since the Congress developed the program in 1980.
The Diversity Visa program, commonly known as the visa lottery, which awards visas to individuals from other countries, will soon be eliminated if the recommendations are passed.
Another topic to look at keenly is Birthright Citizenship. It refers to citizenship granted to anyone who’s born in the U.S. When such a person turns 21; they have the legal capacity to sponsor their siblings or parents to America.
This is one of the issues the president has spoken about in the open, and he hopes to end it. It may sound unrealistic, but President Trump is determined to sign an executive order ending birthright citizenship.
Why an ESTA doesn’t guarantee entry into the U.S.
To the ESTA applicants, an ESTA document doesn’t guarantee you free entry into the United States. You can still be denied entry into the U.S. by the border personnel. They have the legal capacity to refuse your entry based on your attitude, even if your papers are in order.
It’s, therefore, important to respect the immigration officials, remain calm and composed while answering their screening questions.
Whereas a majority will be denied ESTA due to their mistakes during the application process, they can reapply again, but they must be keen not to repeat the same mistakes that got their applications canceled.
But be reminded that if the reason for the cancellation was legitimate, applying again won’t change anything.
To sum it up, ESTA application isn’t too tasking, but be wary of the changes in immigration policy that might affect your application. When applying for your ESTA online, be discrete and truthful, and at least make the application 72 hours before your travel. Oh, and don’t forget to carry your passport!