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Immigration Law

Executive Actions on Immigration: Business Edition

"Several of the President’s initiatives for improving our broken immigration system will provide much needed relief to foreign entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors, highly-skilled workers, STEM graduates and students, and the U.S. businesses and investors that require their skills and expertise.  More updates and analysis will appear here as further details emerge, but for now here are the most intriguing of Obama’s business immigration-related initiatives:

Some H-4 spouses will get work authorization if their H-1B spouse is on the path to permanent residence!  Under the proposed rule DHS published in May, H-4 spouses would become eligible for work authorization if his or her H-1B spouse is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 petition, or the beneficiary of an approved H-1B extension based on AC-21.  USCIS is expected to publish the final rule extending work authorization to some H-4 spouses as early as December or January.

The standard for NIW adjudications will be clearer!  USCIS will clarify the standard by which a national interest waiver may be granted to foreign inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises to benefit the U.S economy.

Parole for inventors, researchers, and entrepreneurs!  USCIS will authorize parole, on a case-by-case basis, to eligible inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises who may not yet qualify for a national interest waiver, but whose entry would still yield a significant public economic benefit.  Individuals will need to meet certain income requirements (so they will be ineligible for welfare, Obama Care tax credits, etc.) and either have been awarded substantial U.S. investor financing; or otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies or the pursuit of cutting-edge research.

USCIS will (try to) streamline the L-1B visa program!  USCIS will provide its long-awaited guidance on their current interpretation meaning of “specialized knowledge” in the L-1B context as early as December or January.  With the L-1B visa program in such shambles at current, it is hard to imagine this guidance could make things worse!

International students and STEM graduates will become eligible for expanded and extended usage of OPT.  USCIS and ICE will publish proposed rules to expand the degree programs eligible for inclusion in the STEM fields, and to extend the time period and use of OPT for STEM students.

The DOL will update its PERM regulations in an effort to modernize the PERM recruitment requirements for testing the labor market for able, willing and qualified U.S. workers.

Certain highly-skilled nonimmigrants with long-pending green card cases (and their spouses) may get more portable work authorization, allowing them to accept promotions or change employers more freely without jeopardizing the validly of their existing I-140 petitions.

The Department of State will simplify the Visa Bulletin to more easily determine when priority dates will become current each year.  USCIS will work with the Department of State to complement this effort.  It is still unclear whether the Department of State will cease counting derivatives against congressionally-mandated annual caps of immigrant visas." - Joseph J. Shepherd, Nov. 21, 2014.