USCIS Proposes Rule To Improve Certain Aspects of Employment Based Visas

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is seeking public comments on a rule that would modernize and improve certain aspects of employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visa programs. USCIS is also proposing regulatory amendments to better enable U.S. employers to hire and retain certain foreign workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions are waiting to become lawful permanent residents (“LPRs”). The public has until February 29, 2016 to comment. Among other things, USCIS is proposing to amend its regulations in order to: ∙ Clarify and improve longstanding agency policies and procedures implementing sections of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (“AC21") and the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) related to certain foreighn workers which will enhance USCIS’ consistency in adjudication of certain employment based petitions. ∙ Better enable U.S. employers to employ and retain certain foreign workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment based immigrant visa petitions (I-140 petitions) while also providing stability and job flexibility to these workers.. The proposed rule will increase the ability of such workers to further their careers by accepting promotions, making position changes with current employers, chanigng employers and pursuing other employment opportunities. ∙ Improve job portability for certain beneficiaries of I-140 petitions by limiting the grounds for automatic revocation of petition approval. ∙ Clarify when individuals may keep their priority date to use when applying for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residece, including when USCIS has revoked the approal of their approved I-140 petitions becasue the employer withdrew the petiiton or because the employer’s business shut down. ∙ Allow certain high-skilled individuals in the United States in E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1 or O-1 nonimmigrant status to apply for one year of unrestricted employment authorization if they: ∙ Are the beneficiaries of an approved I-140 petition; ∙ Remain unable to adjust status due to visa unavailability; and ∙ Can demonstrate that compelling circumstances exist which justify issuing an employment authorization document. Such employment authorization may only be renewed in limited circumstances. ∙ Clarify various policies and procedures related to the adjudiction of H-1B peititons, including among other things, extensions of status, determining cap exemptions and counting workers under the H-1B visa cap, H-1B portability, licensure requirements, and protections for whistleblowers. ∙ Establish a one-time grace period furing an authorized validity periof of up to 60 days for certain high-skilled nonimmigrant workers whenever their employment ends so that they may more readily prusue new employment and an extension of thier nonimmigrant status. These proposed changes will not take effect until 60 days after a final rule is published in the Federal Register.