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November 2014
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Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration: Business Edition

By: Joseph J. Shepherd, Esq.

Several of the President’s initiatives for improving our broken immigration system will provide much needed relief to foreign entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors, highly-skilled workers, STEM graduates and students, and the U.S. businesses and investors that require their skills and expertise.  More updates and analysis will appear here as further details emerge, but for now here are the most intriguing of Obama’s business immigration-related initiatives:

Some H-4 spouses will get work authorization if their H-1B spouse is on the path to permanent residence!  Under the proposed rule DHS published in May, H-4 spouses would become eligible for work authorization if his or her H-1B spouse is the beneficiary of an approved I-140 petition, or the beneficiary of an approved H-1B extension based on AC-21.  USCIS is expected to publish the final rule extending work authorization to some H-4 spouses as early as December or January.

The standard for NIW adjudications will be clearerUSCIS will clarify the standard by which a national interest waiver may be granted to foreign inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises to benefit the U.S economy.

Parole for inventors, researchers, and entrepreneurs!  USCIS will authorize parole, on a case-by-case basis, to eligible inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises who may not yet qualify for a national interest waiver, but whose entry would still yield a significant public economic benefit.  Individuals will need to meet certain income requirements (so they will be ineligible for welfare, Obama Care tax credits, etc.) and either have been awarded substantial U.S. investor financing; or otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies or the pursuit of cutting-edge research.

USCIS will (try to) streamline the L-1B visa program!  USCIS will provide its long-awaited guidance on their current interpretation meaning of “specialized knowledge” in the L-1B context as early as December or January.  With the L-1B visa program in such shambles at current, it is hard to imagine this guidance could make things worse!

International students and STEM graduates will become eligible for expanded and extended usage of OPT.  USCIS and ICE will publish proposed rules to expand the degree programs eligible for inclusion in the STEM fields, and to extend the time period and use of OPT for STEM students.

The DOL will update its PERM regulations in an effort to modernize the PERM recruitment requirements for testing the labor market for able, willing and qualified U.S. workers.

Certain highly-skilled nonimmigrants with long-pending green card cases (and their spouses) may get more portable work authorization, allowing them to accept promotions or change employers more freely without jeopardizing the validly of their existing I-140 petitions.

The Department of State will simplify the Visa Bulletin to more easily determine when priority dates will become current each year.  USCIS will work with the Department of State to complement this effort.  It is still unclear whether the Department of State will cease counting derivatives against congressionally-mandated annual caps of immigrant visas.

As the details about these and other key immigration initiatives emerge, like the DACA expansion and the creation of DAP, check out our blog for the latest updates and analysis and subscribe to our newsletter!

Want to learn more?  Carl Shusterman and Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP will jointly present a free webinar explaining President’s Obama’s Executive Actions on Monday, December 1, 2014 at 12:30 PMRegister today!

Executive Action Immigration Reform Imminent

President Obama will address the nation on Immigration Reform, Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 5:00 PM Pacific at www.WhiteHouse.gov/Live where he will unveil his executive action plan on immigration that is projected to affect up to 3 million undocumented immigrants. The President will most likely provide deportation relief for the parents of children who are U.S. . . . → Read More: Executive Action Immigration Reform Imminent

New Agreement Between U.S. and China Extends Validity Period for Business, Tourist, and Student Visas

By:  Matthew Beatus

In an address at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), President Obama announced today that the U.S. and China have come to an agreement to extend the validity periods of business, tourist, and student visas.  Currently, these visas are only issued for one-year increments.  Under the new agreement, multiple entry business and tourist visas will . . . → Read More: New Agreement Between U.S. and China Extends Validity Period for Business, Tourist, and Student Visas

DV Lottery Opens October 1, 2014 – 50,000 Green Cards to be Issued

By Vanessa Sanchez, Esq.

Online registration for the U.S. diversity (DV) immigrant visa program for fiscal year 2016 will begin on October 1, 2014 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and will remain open until Monday, November 3, 2014 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST). As in prior years, the U.S. government has made 50,000 . . . → Read More: DV Lottery Opens October 1, 2014 – 50,000 Green Cards to be Issued

Department of State Releases New Fee Schedule

By: Joseph J. Shepherd, Esq.

Beginning Saturday, September 6, 2014, the Department of State will charge new fee amounts for all immigrant visa applications, certain nonimmigrant visa applications in the E and K categories, and for J-1 waiver recommendation applications, among others.  The highlights:

Immediate relatives and family-based immigrant visa applicants will see a significant hike in fees . . . → Read More: Department of State Releases New Fee Schedule

China EB-5 “Unavailable” for Remainder of FY2014 – What Does This Mean?

By Bernard Wolfsdorf, Esq. (in cooperation with AILA’s EB-5 Committee)

On Saturday, August 23, 2014, Charles Oppenheim, Chief of the Department of State Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division, announced that, effective immediately, the EB-5 preference category had become “unavailable” for Chinese applicants.  This announcement was made at the sold-out AILA EB-5 Conference in Chicago during the . . . → Read More: China EB-5 “Unavailable” for Remainder of FY2014 – What Does This Mean?

Visa Bulletin Updates for August and Some Predictions for the Remainder of the Fiscal Year

By Jessica L. Marks, Esq.

The August 2014 Visa Bulletin is out and brings some exciting developments in several employment-based categories. The following major movement forward will take place on August 1:

The EB-2 category for those born in China advances three months to October 8, 2009, while the EB-3 category advances 25 months to November 1, 2008! . . . → Read More: Visa Bulletin Updates for August and Some Predictions for the Remainder of the Fiscal Year

The Executive Branch Proposes Reforms to Employment-based Immigration Rules

By: Joseph J. Shepherd, Esq.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) yesterday announced the forthcoming publication of not one but two new proposed rules in the Federal Register to amend regulations applying to both nonimmigrant visa holders and applicants for employment-based immigrant visas.  As previously reported, the first proposed rule provides employment authorization for some (but not . . . → Read More: The Executive Branch Proposes Reforms to Employment-based Immigration Rules

“Winner” of the Diversity Visa Program: A Fairy Tale for Many

By Vanessa Sanchez, Bernard Wolfsdorf and Naveen Bhora

On May 1, 2014 the U.S. Department of State announced the winners of the 2015 Diversity Visa program (DV-2015). Over 100,000 eager U.S. immigrants were selected and these “winners” will have an opportunity to have their fairy tale come true – a chance to obtain a green card.

However, being . . . → Read More: “Winner” of the Diversity Visa Program: A Fairy Tale for Many

Winning the H-1B Lottery is Just the Beginning of the Battle – The Fierce Fight over What Constitutes a “Specialty Occupation”

By Jessica L. Marks, Esq.

Now that the dust has settled from the mad dash to March 31, the receipt notices are rolling in for the lucky lottery winners whose H-1B petitions have been selected for the FY 2015 cap.  Since the lottery was held on April 10, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has begun notifying . . . → Read More: Winning the H-1B Lottery is Just the Beginning of the Battle – The Fierce Fight over What Constitutes a “Specialty Occupation”