USCIS has created new policies that will support our country’s high-skilled businesses and workers by better enabling U.S. businesses to hire and retain highly skilled foreign-born workers while providing these workers with increased flexibility to make natural advancements with their current employers or seek similar opportunities elsewhere. This increased mobility will also ensure a more-level playing field for U.S. workers.
The U.S. employment-based immigration system currently has extremely long waits for immigrant visas, or “green cards,” due to relatively low green card numerical limits established by Congress. Compounding the issue more is an immigration system that has often failed to issue all of the immigrant visas authorized by Congress for a fiscal year. Hundreds of thousands of such visas have gone unissued in the past despite heavy demand for them.
To correct this problem USCIS will take several steps to modernize and improve the immigrant visa process.
Under current regulations, foreign nationals studying in the United States on non-immigrant F-1 student visas may request twelve additional months of F-1 visa status for “optional practical training” (OPT), which allows them to extend their time in the United States for temporary employment in the relevant field of study. OPT, which may occur before or after graduation, must be approved by the educational institution. By regulations adopted in 2007, students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are eligible for an additional 17 months of OPT, for a total of 29 months.
To enhance opportunities for foreign inventors, researchers, and founders of start-up enterprises wishing to conduct research and development and create jobs in the United States, USCIS is implementing two administrative improvements to our employment-based immigration system:
The L-IB visa program for “intracompany transferees” is critically important to multinational companies. The program allows companies to transfer employees who are managerial or executives, or who have “specialized knowledge” of the company’s products or processes to the United States from foreign operations.
Currently, uncertainty within the employment-based visa system creates unnecessary hardships for many foreign workers who have filed for adjustment of status but are unable to become permanent residents due to a lack of immigrant visas. Current law allows such workers to change jobs without jeopardizing their ability to seek lawful permanent residence, but only if the new job is in a “same or a similar” occupational classification as their old job. Unfortunately, there is uncertainty surrounding what constitutes a “same or similar” job, thus preventing many workers from changing employers, seeking new job opportunities, or even accepting promotions for fear that such action might void their currently approved immigrant visa petitions.
If you feel that you or someone you know might benefit from these new business immigration policies you should contact our office today. David E. Walters is a Nevada and California Licensed Attorney with years of immigration law experience. He will be able to give you the best legal advice for your situation and fight for your rights!