President Obama’s “Immigration Accountability Executive Action” proposes several changes to the immigration system many of which could affect employment-based visas. The proposed changes could be good news for employees and employers by decreasing wait times for certain classifications, allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work and in some cases increasing the amount of time a employee can remain on his visa.
The employment-based changes will affect green cards, H-4, L-1B, OPT and PERM classifications.
Executive Action re Pre-Registration for Adjustment Cases
- Decrease wait time to file adjustment of status
- Pre-register for green card and receive green card benefits while waiting for approval
- Allow the temporary non-immigrant visa holder to change jobs while before green card is approved
The Executive Order’s proposals for readjustment cases will significantly benefit temporary non-immigrant visa holders. These visa holders will no longer suffer from long wait times before they eligible to even apply for a green card. Scrapping long wait times will allow immigrants to move through the once long and extensive process much faster. Green card holders are given more rights and benefits than temporary non-immigrant visa holders, and now workers can enjoy these benefits sooner.
Temporary non-immigrant visa holders will be able to change jobs while waiting for green card approval. If a worker receives a promotion or change in job title the lengthy green card process won’t have to start over again. This allows foreign workers to advance their careers faster and with greater ease. These changes will benefit the economy and increase the attractiveness of working in the United States.
H-4’s Ability to Work
- H-4 visa holders, spouses of H-1B visa holders can obtain work
Currently H-4 visa holders cannot work in the United States. This proposed change could greatly benefit families coming over the United States. Families may now have the ability to benefit from duel incomes, increasing their wealth and increasing the attractiveness of the H-1B visa. Allowing spouses to work may make the decision to travel to the United States easier on families now that spouses will not have to completely give up ability to work.
L-1BApprovals and Specialized Knowledge
- More specifically define “specialized knowledge” to decrease denials of L-1B visas
L-1B visas are granted to workers that possess an advanced knowledge specific to his employment. However, the term “specialized knowledge” is not well defined, which has led to several L-1B denials. The DHS has been consulting with the State Department for the past couple of years in an effort to update the definition of “specialized knowledge.”
Providing additional insight to the meaning of “specialized knowledge” will allow employers to more adequately find employees that fit under this visa classification. This can save employers considerable time and money filing L-1B visas that are subject to denial because the employee’s skill set doesn’t meet the definition of “specialized knowledge.”
Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- Students on OPT can extend stay for longer periods of time
OPT is a beneficial tool for students, specifically in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, to work in the field that they are studying. This allows students to gain practical experience and be more attractive to employers.
Extending the length of stay on OPT will allow employers to employ a student longer without students having to go back to his home country. This will allow students to gain more skills and become more marketable by gaining considerable practical experience working in the United States.
- Full revamp
- Modernize PERM system
- Foreign entrepreneurs subject to “parole” system
Obama proposes the PERM system undertake a full revamping to modernize the PERM system and modernize outdated practices. This could make the PERM process easier and quicker to move through.
Foreign entrepreneurs that invest a certain amount of money in the United States will under a new “parole” system. This could benefit the United States economy by bringing in more money.
ContactThe Law Office of Sweta Khandelwaltoday to discuss how the Immigration Accountability Executive Action and how it could affect your employment-based
AILA’s Take on President Obama’s “Immigration Accountability Executive Action” Plan, American Immigration Lawyers Association, November 24, 2014