The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is making changes to the Code of Federal Regulations section titled “Retention of EB–1, EB–2, and EB–3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers” that affect certain employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs, in particular, the H-1B visas. These changes, which go into effect January 17, 2017, will provide several benefits to participants, including: improved processes for employers wanting to petition and hire immigrant and nonimmigrant workers, more stability and job flexibility for these workers, and increased transparency and consistency of agency policies related to these employee visa classifications.
Most of these changes are expected to help employers hire and keep foreign workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions and are waiting to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs). Additionally, the changes will enable such workers to seek promotions, accept lateral positions, change employers, or pursue other employment options.
Some of the highlights of these changes in the proposed rule include improved portability for certain beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions by limiting the grounds for automatic revocation of petition approval; enhanced job portability for beneficiaries by making it easier to retain priority dates for use with subsequently approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions; and establishing or extending grace periods for certain nonimmigrant workers so that they may maintain their nonimmigrant status during changes in employment or status. These rule changes will also further assist some employment-eligible individuals by automatically extending the validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for a temporary period upon timely filing a renewal Application for Employment Authorization. Certain high-skilled workers will also enjoy increased job flexibility and stability if they are working in the United States in certain nonimmigrant status, are beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions, are subject to immigrant visa backlogs, and can demonstrate compelling circumstances that would allow them to apply for independent employment authorization for a limited period.
These and other proposed changes will provide much needed flexibility to the beneficiaries of employment-based immigrant visa petitions, as well as the U.S. employers who employ and sponsor them for permanent residence.
BUSINESS OWNERS AND HR MANAGERS: FIND OUT WHERE YOU STAND! Your company’s foreign employees may already qualify for a benefit that you are not aware of yet. If you have never talked to an immigration attorney about your situation before, now is the best time to do so – before the new administration starts making changes that may affect your employees and your business. Contact an experienced, licensed attorney to find out what YOU can do to help your situation. If you would like our assistance, contact our office today at 210-932-3600 to set up a consultation.