Department of Homeland Security Announces New Immigration-Related Rules

479608_shaking_hands.jpgToday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it has created two new proposed rules that, once they take effect, will impact many foreign nationals who are currently residing in the United States, as well as many foreign nationals who wish to immigrate to this country.

The first rule concerns those who are in the U.S. in H-4 status as spouses of H-1B temporary foreign workers. At the present time, H-4 spouses are ineligible to receive work authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, the new proposed rule will allow H-4 spouses to apply for and receive work authorization from USCIS as long as the H-1B temporary worker has started the employment-based green card sponsorship process. The H-1B worker will be deemed to have started the aforementioned process if the worker is either the beneficiary of an approved I-140 Petition for Immigrant Worker, or if the beneficiary has received an extension of the H-1B status beyond the normal six-year maximum, pursuant to the provisions of the AC21 law.

This proposed rule is sure to be met with much appreciation by the hundreds of thousands of H-4 spouses currently in the U.S. - many of whom possess advanced degrees from U.S. universities - who have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to obtain work authorization for several years.

The second proposed rule affects multiple different types of visa classifications. This rule updates the present DHS regulations to include H-1B1 workers from Chile and Singapore, and E-3 workers from Australia, on the list of foreign nationals who are authorized to work pursuant to their status with a particular employer. The rule also authorizes E-3, CW-1, and H-1B1 temporary workers to continue working for up to 240 days after the expiration of their I-94 card expiration date, as long as an extension application is pending with USCIS during this time period. Finally, the third rule also adds to the list of acceptable evidence that may be submitted in support of an employment-based first preference I-140 Petition for classification as an outstanding professor or researcher.

This rule will also likely be much appreciated by the foreign nationals who will be affected by it.

In support of the proposed rules, DHS Deputy Secretary Mr. Alejandro Mayorkas issued a statement affirming that the proposed rules will help the U.S. economy by attracting and retaining highly-skilled foreign workers. Additionally, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ms. Penny Pritzker also spoke out in favor of the proposed rules, stating that the rules will help promote foreign entrepreneurship and innovation in the United States.

The rules will be published in the Federal Register to allow for public commentary. The public comments will be reviewed by the DHS before the rules take effect and the final versions are published.

The prospect of allowing H-4 spouses to obtain work authorization is an exciting and long-awaited opportunity. Moreover, outstanding foreign professors and researchers will likely take advantage of the new evidentiary criteria they may soon submit with their I-140 Petitions. With these new rules will likely come new processes. Call our office at 650-293-0270 to speak to a member of our legal team about how you or a loved one may take advantage of these new immigration opportunities.

Additional Blog Posts

Senate Unveils Initial Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, February 6, 2013
President Obama Signs Rare Private Immigration Bill, Silicon Valley Immigration Lawyer Blog, January 8, 2013

Immigration News / by Michelle Gee