Obama administration releases new set of rules in the offing.
NEW YORK: The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will soon provide more protection for H-1B visa workers, and streamline more visa applications through paperless technology to improve the efficiency of the system, according to the Presidential Memorandum on Visa Modernization, the latest component of the President’s executive action on immigration.
The new set of proposed changes to make the immigration system more efficient, however, has no take on how to reduce the visa backlog, perhaps the most critical issue that remains a sore point for millions of legal residents on the path to permanent resident status. The issue of how to issue Green cards faster to those immigrants waiting in line on the EB2 and EB3 route remains a concern.
“Today’s announcement only further underscores the importance of the continued push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation that includes a path to citizenship,” said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), in statement, on the new rule proposals, which have already brought effected changes like giving work permits to certain H4 visa holders.
SAALT says it is “very pleased” to see that the announcement expands and expedites work authorization and economic opportunity for some immigrant victims of domestic violence. Specifically, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will allow Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners to simultaneously file for work authorization to reduce wait times for survivors of domestic violence. Certain non-immigrant battered spouses will also be eligible for work authorization.
The organization also welcomed updates and clarifications to the U and T visa programs that would allow more victims of crime (U visa) and human trafficking (T visa) to remain in the United States and access justice. These include DHS publishing a regulation to clarify the U nonimmigrant application procedure and the public charge exemption of inadmissibility as well as publishing a comprehensive T nonimmigrant status regulation to reflect the numerous changes in the law and application process.
The H-1B visa program related to job flexibility and documentation requirements would include improvements that will provide increased guidance on job flexibility provisions for those seeking new employment and modify forms for H-1B extensions to provide documentation of previous adjudications to simplify the process.
“These important updates and executive action writ large, while not legislative change, are a welcome step in the right direction. Our nation and our communities continue to need just and inclusive immigration reform legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship, keeps families together, and expands economic opportunity for all aspiring Americans. We remain committed to that ultimate goal,” said Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).
Specifically, the new proposed regulation will, for H-1B visa holders:
- Increase the ability of workers waiting for a green card to change jobs or receive promotions by clarifying when individuals may change jobs or employers because such employment is “same or similar” to the job that was the original basis for permanent residency.
- Further increase job flexibility by enabling individuals whose employment-sponsored immigrant visa petitions have been approved for more than one year to retain eligibility for LPR status despite the petitioning employer closing its business or seeking to withdraw the approved petition;
- Provide increased guidance on job flexibility provisions for H-1B workers seeking other H-
1B employment, including changing jobs or employers.
- Extend grace periods for certain nonimmigrant workers whose period of authorized stay has expired, including because their jobs have been terminated, to better allow them to obtain other employment without losing their nonimmigrant status.
- Clarify when H-1B nonimmigrants may begin working without required licensure;
- Provide increased guidance on the maximum period of admission for H-1B nonimmigrants, including for those who are on the path to LPR status, and enable H-1B nonimmigrants to recapture time spent outside of the United States;
- Clarify which H-1B nonimmigrants are exempt from the statutory cap to ensure that those nonimmigrants who are contributing to U.S. research and the education of Americans may remain in the United States; and
- Protect H-1B nonimmigrants who suffered retaliatory actions because they reported labor violations committed by their employer.