Human Resources Immigration Update
Recognized for fast and creative approaches to global immigration, Pearl Law Group brings you this message. We thank you for trusting us as an immigration resource, and we welcome your comments and questions.
(February 2, 2012)
Our updates are for informational purposes only, and should not be used to take legal action without consulting counsel.
As a reflection of the President's commitment to fixing our broken immigration system so that it meets our 21st century national security and economic needs, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) this week announced a series of administrative reforms to help attract new businesses and new investment to the U.S. and ensure that the U.S. has the most skilled workforce in the world. These proposals, which include expanding the scope of OPT extensions and allowing certain spouses of H-1B employees to work, will likely take several months to go into effect.
Upcoming DHS Reforms Geared to Attracting and Retaining Highly Skilled Immigrants
Expand Eligibility for OPT Extensions
Presently, F-1 students may engage in optional practical training (OPT) for 12 months, although those who graduate in STEM programs can obtain a 17-month OPT extension if their degree is included on the DHS eligibility list of STEM programs. The proposed change would expand eligibility for OPT extension by including students with a prior U.S. STEM degree. Furthermore, DHS will continue to review emerging fields for possible inclusion in the list of eligible STEM degree programs.
Allow Part-time Study for Spouses of F-1 Students
This regulatory reform would allow F-2 spouses to enroll in additional academic classes on a part-time basis while their spouse is pursuing full-time studies; currently, dependent spouses may only take part-time vocational or recreational classes.
Provide Work Authorization for Spouses of Certain H-1B Holders
The proposed change would allow spouses of H-1B visa holders to work while awaiting AOS adjudication. Specifically, employment for H-4 dependents will be authorized if their H-1B spouses have begun the process of seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status after meeting a minimum period of H-1B status in the U.S.
Allow a Broader Scope of Evidence for Outstanding Professors and Researchers
The proposed change would increase the types of evidence employers can submit to demonstrate that a professor or researcher is among the very best in their field. Presently, applicants for the employment-based immigrant visa category of "outstanding professors and researchers" are limited to specific types of evidence listed by regulation; this change would allow "comparable evidence" beyond the specifically articulated regulatory list.
Allow E-3 and H-1B1 Visa Holders to Continue Working While Their Extension of Status Petitions are Pending
The proposed regulation would treat E-3 and H-1B1 visa holders the same as L-1 other H-1B visa holders by allowing them to continue employment with their current employer for up to 240 days from the expiration of their authorized period of stay, if a petition to extend their status has been timely filed.
Launch Entrepreneurs in Residence initiative
On February 22, 2012, USCIS will launch its Entrepreneurs in Residence initiative with an Information Summit in Silicon Valley, which will bring together high-level representatives from the entrepreneurial community, academia and federal government agencies to discuss how to maximize current immigration laws' potential to attract foreign entrepreneurial talent. The Information Summit will focus on ensuring that immigration pathways for foreign entrepreneurs are clear and consistent and better reflect today's business realities, and will include a special recognition of outstanding contributions made by immigrant entrepreneurs to our nation's economic growth and prosperity. The input gathered at the summit will inform the work of the Entrepreneurs in Residence tactical team, which will bring business experts in-house to work alongside USCIS staff for a period of approximately 90 days.
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The Human Resources Immigration Update provides periodic alerts about noteworthy developments in business and corporate immigration and related topics. It is provided as information only and is not a substitute for legal counsel. If you have questions about the NewsFlash, please contact your PLG attorney or write email@example.com.
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