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Modernizing the Visa System to Attract and Retain Global Investment and Global Talent

Posted by Assistant Secretary for the Private Sector Raul Perales

EDITORS NOTE: This blog was originally posted by the White House on March 26.

For the sake of our economy and our security, legal immigration should be simple and efficient. After the long wait for a legislative solution to fix our broken system, the President took action within his authority to help streamline the legal immigration system until Congress passes commonsense, comprehensive reform.

Earlier this week, speaking at the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit, President Obama announced the next steps the Administration is taking to attract the world’s top talented professionals by making it easier for global companies to launch and invest in the United States: 

My administration is going to reform the L-1B visa category, which allows corporations to temporarily move workers from a foreign office to a U.S. office in a faster, simpler way. And this could benefit hundreds of thousands of nonimmigrant workers and their employers; that, in turn, will benefit our entire economy and spur additional investment.

Specifically, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued proposed guidance this week clarifying the standards and creating consistency for decisions of L-1B nonimmigrant visa applications. This is a popular visa category that allows global companies to temporarily transfer specialized workers to the U.S. for the purpose of launching or expanding a U.S. operation.

This long-anticipated policy guidance, which has been released for public feedback, has been of particular interest to global companies seeking to do business in the United States. It will provide increased certainty to businesses and eliminate confusion in the L-1B program, helping to bolster investment and our overall economic growth.

By releasing this updated guidance, the Department of Homeland Security is taking yet another important step forward in executing the President’s immigration executive actions announced in November 2014. These actions will modernize and streamline the legal immigration system, helping grow the U.S. economy, create jobs, and recognize the fluid dynamics of the 21st century. 

The economic benefits of the President’s action are formidable. Last month, the President’s Council of Economic Advisers released an updated report on the economic impact of the entirety of the President’s executive actions, finding that they could boost the nation’s GDP by as much as $250 billion while shrinking the federal deficit by as much as $65 billion over the next 10 years. These actions are also expected to increase wages and productivity of all workers, not just immigrants, and expand the American workforce by an estimated 200,000 people over the next 10 years. 

While the President is leading through administration actions, he also recognizes that more must be done through legislation. As he stated at the SelectUSA Investment Summit:

Of course, as all of you know, one of the things that would make America even more attractive to businesses and that would grow our economy and shrink our deficits, and keep this country safer, stronger, and smarter, would be a comprehensive immigration reform package. We need to get immigration reform done here in the United States of America.

The bottom line: Only Congress can finish the job of fixing our broken immigration system. President Obama continues to be committed to working with Congress to pass a comprehensive, bipartisan bill that will capture the full economic benefits of immigration reform

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