After emerging victorious in several key battleground states, Republican candidate Donald Trump has declared victory as the winner of the 2016 US Presidential race. Republicans also retained control of the Senate and the House of Representatives. An overview of Trump’s platform and the immigration implications of his election are outlined below.
Background – Trump’s immigration platform
Donald Trump’s campaign spoke extensively on the issue of immigration, primarily in relation to concerns around illegal immigration, and included propositions for the following:
– Building a physical wall to divide the United States and Mexico
– Deporting criminal aliens, in joint operation with local, state, and federal law enforcement, and tripling the number of ICE agents
– Suspending the issuance of visas in areas deemed to not have adequate screening mechanisms in place
– Ending President Obama’s executive actions, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), resulting in the deportation of the beneficiaries of these programs
By comparison to Trump’s platform on illegal immigration, he spoke sparingly in relation to his corporate immigration platform. Throughout various stages of the campaign, however, Trump’s platform included propositions for the following:
– Increasing wage requirements for H-1B visa holders in an effort to encourage US companies to hire more Americans for entry-level jobs
– Increasing usage of the E-Verify program, resulting in required participation for all US companies in order to verify employment authorization status prior to an individual commencing employment within the US
– Renegotiating and potentially considering the abolition of NAFTA, under which certain classifications of professionals are eligible to transfer between the US, Canada and Mexico for employment purposes
– Suspending US visa issuance from Muslim regions, as determined necessary by Trump
Impact – What does this mean for immigration?
US immigration implications
While difficult to predict whether the above will occur in the proposed form or an altered form, it seems likely that Trump will attempt to take robust action at the outset of his presidency in relation to illegal immigration, with potential changes to corporate immigration to follow. Action instituted by Trump, however, could be met with delays in Congress.
With the GOP retaining control of the House of Representatives (236 to 191) and the Senate (51 to 47), Trump may benefit from a united Republican Congress. Trump’s relationship with many congressional republicans, however, has been described as uneasy and is not expected to lend itself to automatic agreeance on key immigration topics. Further, many of Trump’s proposed policies will require approval from Congress for the significant costs involved, likely resulting in periods of lengthy delays before any changes to immigration are felt. Based on the anticipated debate expected to occur on many key immigration fields, including the costs associated with Trump’s platforms on illegal immigration and corporate immigration, change will likely occur slowly. Thus, unless Congress also supports Trump’s position, changes to corporate immigration will likely occur slowly following periods of significant debate.
Canadian immigration implications
As the votes were cast and ballots counted, the website for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada experienced such high volumes on election night that it ultimately crashed, leading to widespread reports that many US citizens unhappy with the results of the election are seriously contemplating moving to Canada on a long-term basis. While the Canadian government has mandated immigration to be more facilitative as a means to foster economic growth and diversity across the country, the process of obtaining permanent residence in Canada remains a relatively lengthy one with eligibility to apply on economic grounds being based largely on the particular candidate’s age, education, work experience, language proficiency, and whether or not they hold a valid job offer. As such, long-term or permanent relocation of American citizens to Canada will not be immediate, and is unlikely to occur en masse.
From a corporate immigration perspective, the changes proposed by Trump are likely to impact businesses not only in the US, but also those in Canada and particularly those engaging in cross-border business. As noted above, Trump’s platform has been highly protectionist, and he has spoken at length pledging to remove the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), if the document is not amended to his liking. It remains to be seen how Trump and his advisors will attempt to amend NAFTA, however any amendments will first need to be agreed to by all member nations, which will not be a quick or seamless process. If the United States eventually removes itself from NAFTA, however, cross-border travel and corporate global mobility programs will be deeply impacted, as such a decision will affect millions of citizens from Canada, the United States and Mexico, who currently utilize the NAFTA work permit category to move seamlessly across borders to work in NAFTA member countries.
In light of Trump’s win, we recommend that employers assess their global mobility program and long-term foreign worker needs both in the US and Canada, and budget for potential increases to wage requirements and processing times accordingly. Companies who employ or are intending to employ foreign nationals under the NAFTA may also wish to consider applying now for their NAFTA-based work permits for the maximum work permit duration to avoid disruption to business services, and ensuring their employees continue to take advantage of working in NAFTA member countries while NAFTA remains in effect.
For questions relating to immigrating to Canada or the US, please contact PwC Law LLP.
Please note that PwC Law does not endorse any specific political opinions or views.