The Department of Homeland Security recently announced it is considering a Known Employer pilot program to streamline employment-based immigration applications filed by eligible U.S. employers. The program is intended to make adjudications more efficient and less costly by reducing paperwork and delays for both DHS and U.S. employers who seek to employ foreign workers. It would be jointly implemented by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A Known Employer program has long been identified as an area ripe for collaboration by the U.S. and Canadian governments. In February 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper issued a joint declaration, Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, which led to an outline of various shared initiatives in the Beyond the Border Action Plan. As part of this plan, the U.S. and Canada agreed to explore the feasibility of incorporating a trusted-employer concept in the processing of business travelers between the two countries. As such, this pilot program would seek to expedite and facilitate legitimate cross-border business travel.

BAL Analysis: BAL has been working closely with DHS and the Beyond the Border working group over the years to move this and other critical business competitiveness initiatives forward. BAL applauds the pilot program as a major step toward increasing efficiency for low-risk employers doing business in the U.S. and Canada. Its success could potentially lead to a permanent program between the U.S. and Canada as well as possible expansion of the program to other countries.

The Known Employer pilot program is expected to commence by late 2015. The details of implementation are not yet clear, but BAL will continue working with DHS on this initiative and will provide further updates as they become available.

For additional information and questions:

Lynden Melmed, Partner
Washington D.C.
Direct: 202.842.5830

Christiana Kern, Legislative Analyst
Direct: 202.842.5831

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