Recent changes in US visas

Published 2019-09-26 09:20

Ahead of the launch of this year’s United States’ Green Card lottery on the 2nd of October, Estaform takes stock of the recent changes in the country’s visa policies.

A new H1B visa lottery policy…

The H1B visa is one of the USA’s most sought after work permits. As from April next year, the lottery will, however, favour candidates with masters’ degrees. Indeed, employers will now be asked to file the applications of their candidates electronically and the lottery will, in a first, round choose from a pool of holders of master degrees. This also means that candidates will be exempted from submitting paper applications and paying application fees.

More money to be invested for the EB5 visa

The EB5 is an American investor visa for entrepreneurs. There are other investor visas but the EB5 requires is the one requiring the most capital, and it will be asking for even more capital as from November this year. Indeed, the threshold to be eligible for this visa will be $ 900,000 as from next month. Up until then, the amount required to be eligible for the EB5 was $ 500, 000.

Shorter validity for French entrepreneurs…

This is a change targeting especially French entrepreneurs. For French individuals wanting to invest in the US, the validity of the E1 and the E2, two entrepreneur visas, have just been shortened. As from September 2019, the visa will need to be renewed after 15 months while up until now, it was valid for a whole 60 months.

More wary of social media content…

Careful what you post on social media. The US now scrutinises the social media of candidates for controversial remarks while considering an application. And one will see their visa- whether work or residence permit or just a tourist visa- refused if the relevant authorities find one’s social media’s content too controversial.

The ESTA website has changed…

For anyone willing to travel to the US, the website to apply for the relevant visa has also recently changed to become more user friendly. It allows the candidate to come back to their application after logging out whereas up until now, the candidate had to complete their application in one go. If you are a citizen of any of the Visa Waiver Program countries then you are able to apply for an ESTA which enables you to visit the US for tourism, business or transit purposes. An ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is fast and easy to apply for, using an online form that takes around ten minutes to complete. 

The ESTA Form requires you to fill in personal information, passport details and answer some questions regarding health and any criminal convictions. Once you have completed the form, you make the application fee payment and submit the application. In many cases, you will receive a response within a few hours but you are advised to apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before you plan to travel to the US.

Other factors to consider when visiting the US

Health insurance – When you are visiting the US, you need to make sure that your travel insurance will cover you for medical expenses in case you have an accident or fall ill whilst in the US.
Travelling across states – Your ESTA applies for travel around the US when you enter, so if you are planning to travel around different states when you get there, it isn’t a problem. You should be aware that different states do have different laws, so for driving and other relevant laws you should check the state laws of the places you are planning to visit to avoid any issues on your visit.