On Thursday, November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a number of measures that will reform our immigration system. While some of these provisions do not relate to employment-based immigration cases, there are several items that will provide clarification and relief for employment-based cases. Many of the specific details about how these changes will be implemented are still being released. However, please fund a summary below.
Adjustment of Status Applications
Individuals who have an approved employment-based immigrant petition and who have been unable to file their adjustment of status due to the quota backlog will be allowed to pre-register to receive adjustment of status benefits when their I-140 is approved but no priority date is available.
Guidance will be released to clarify the meaning of “same or similar” occupation. This is expected to allow broader flexibility to change jobs after the I-485 has been filed.
Guidance is expected to be released to illuminate the meaning of “specialized knowledge.”
Regulations are expected to be released in December or January to allow work authorization to certain H-4 nonimmigrants based upon their spouse’s permanent residence application.
Optional Practical Training:
Regulations will be released to expand the length of time that a STEM graduate may work through OPT authorization. This regulation will also expand the types of degrees that will be eligible for OPT. USCIS is also being directed to implement stronger “ties to degree-granting institutions, which would better ensure that a student’s practical training furthers the student’s full course of study.”
The Department of Labor will review and revise the PERM system, including modernizing the recruitment methods.
The Hammond Law Group is thrilled that the President is taking needed action to promote reform in our immigration system.