US Immigration Policy

President Obama Announces Extensive Reform to US Immigration System

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.

AC21:

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.

L-1b:

Guidance is expected to be released to illuminate the meaning of “specialized knowledge.”

H-4 EAD’s:

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.”

PERM:

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.

H-1b workers and employers win big !

Lost in the President’s plan to provide relief to millions of undocumented/illegal people here in the US were major changes that will be hugely positive for H-1b workers and employers alike. A summary will be posted later today and more details provided as they become available but, the highlights include: the end of retrogression for US based workers (well, almost); elimination of the need for most h-1b extensions; in many cases, the advantage of being EB2 vs. EB3 would be eliminated; clearer L-1b rules; and, greater portability for H-1b workers which means easier access to resources for US employers. Nice job Mr. President !

President Obama to announce Executive Action on Thurs. Nov 20th

The White House has announced that President Obama will proclaim the executive actions he will take on immigration tomorrow night at 8pm eastern.  Proponents of business reforms should expect to be disappointed as it is not believed that he will take any action to address retrogression. However, it is expected that he will extend the STEM OPT period for US graduates. The White House believes this action will impact the number of H-1b cap filings. We believe that this change will have a positive impact on any US grad who was not so lucky, to have been chosen in the lottery but, will have no impact on the overall number of H-1b cap filings. The connection between those two, we think is mis-placed. We will provide a summary after his speech.

U.S. History of Providing Temporary Immigration Relief

The American Immigration Council recently released a chart that shows that many U.S. Presidents have used their executive power to remedy immigration issues that they found to be unjust. Since 1956, every U.S. President has granted some form of temporary immigration relief to at least one group that was found to be in need of assistance. Some specific examples include President Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon’s parole of up to 600,000 Cuban asylum seekers who were fleeing the Cuban revolution, President Ford and Carter’s parole of over 300,000 Southeast Asians who were fleeing the conflict in Vietnam, and President Reagan’s order to defer deportation for up to 200,000 Nicaraguans. Many of these actions were taken to provide relief to affected groups while legislation was pending. In other cases, the Presidents reacted to a humanitarian crisis. President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals follows a long line of historical actions by U.S. Presidents who used their executive authority to address immigration problems. The Hammond Law Group hopes that President Obama will remedy some of the current immigration challenges facing the U.S. by using his “broad executive authority to shape the enforcement and implementation of immigration laws.”

Senator Grassley Upset Over the H-1b program…… again !

Recently, President Obama made remarks indicating that he wanted to make the H-1b program more efficient as part of the Executive Action that he has promised to deliver in light of Congressional inaction on immigration reform. His remarks immediately drew the ire of Senator Grassley who opined that the H-1b program should have a labor market test attached to it.  In typical form, Senator Grassley falsely claimed that US companies lay off US workers in mass and then replace them with cheaper H-1b workers. It should be alarming to all advocates of legal immigration and business immigration reform that Senator Grassley would be the top Senator and carry tremendous weight over any immigration bill should the Republicans take control over the Senate. Hopes of U.S. companies being able to hire and retain the best and the brightest will be destroyed by a strong wind blowing from the corn fields of Iowa should the Senate change hands in the November election.

November Visa Bulletin Brings good news and bad !

The Department of State has released the November Visa Bulletin and it contains a mix of bad news and good news depending upon your country of origin. If you are an EB2 Indian national, the news in not unexpected as it was predicted but, the retrogression of over 4 years to Feb of 2005 is nonetheless devastating. For EB3 Philippines and the rest of the world, a forward jump of almost 8 mos. is very welcome. The prognostications for upcoming months is similar in that no movement is expected for India EB2 however EB3 for the Phillippines and all other countries are expected to continue their rapid movement forward however, both may retrogress later in the fiscal year i.e. next summer. We will keep you updated as developments occur. A legislative fix for retrogression remains much needed.

Tech Industry Leader Denounces US H-1b policy

Check out what the tech giant, Microsoft had to say about US immigration policy specifically, the H-1b program.

By |September 30th, 2014|US Immigration Policy|0 Comments|

Political forces behind the CIR debate

If you are interested in learning more about the political voices that are influential in the CIR debate, here is a nice concise article.

October Visa Bulletin released

The Department of State has released the October Visa Bulletin and all EB3 categories saw forward movement with the EB3 Philippines and the All Other categories surging forward 6 months.  Unfortunately, EB2 India saw no forward movement and the DOS predicted that retrogression in this category could come as early as Nov. As a practical matter, this means that if you are in the EB2 category and your priority date is current, get your I-485 filed by the end of October and if you are already filed, respond to any RFE’s as quickly as possible as the window is closing quickly.

President Obama changes plans

For those of you holding out hope for Executive Action to address some of the needs of the immigration system, stop holding your breath. President Obama recently announced that he will still take action but, not until later. Many believe that he received significant negative reaction from within his own party over his planned actions and the fear was that his actions would sway the mid-term elections and hand the Senate to the Republicans. For now, we continue to live with antiquated laws and an agency beating its own drum.