Buried in the fine print of the executive actions announced by President Obama on November 20, 2014 are several directives that will affect employment-based immigration benefits. These will have the greatest impact on highly skilled employees and are intended to reduce barriers to employment and permanent residency for this group:
- Providing work authorization for H-4 spouses of H-1Bs with approved I-140 petitions.
- Modernizing the immigrant visa system to improve the process by which immigrant visas are made available for highly skilled workers.
- Allowing foreign students to extend the time they remain in the U.S. to work in their field of study by expanding the fields to which the Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math extension applies.
- Clarifying the standards by which National Interest Waivers may be granted to foreign inventors, researchers and start-up founders who benefit the economy by attracting investment, generating revenue, and creating jobs.
- Publishing new L-1B regulations to provide better guidance and consistency in adjudications of intra-company transfers which are relied upon by global companies to transfer foreign employees to work in the U.S.
- Modifying existing regulations to provide better guidance for employees with pending permanent resident applications who wish to change jobs, including receiving promotions.
Because implementation will in some cases involve a lengthy rulemaking process, these changes will take place over a period of several months to more than a year.
In addition, programs to expand deferred action and provisional waivers for family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents will permit previously undocumented individuals to regularize their status. Existing employees will come forward with new identities and work authorization documents, able to provide truthful information for the first time in their working lives. Please contact MSEC for assistance in dealing with these situations.