DHS Announces Proposals to Attract and Retain Highly Skilled Immigrants

By: Adrien Medvei, Esq. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on May 6, 2014 proposed three new rules aimed at attracting and retaining highly skilled workers from around the world.

The first proposed rule would amend existing regulations to allow H-4 dependent spouses of certain principal H-1B workers to request employment authorization, which they currently do not have. If implemented as described, the first rule would grant employment authorization to the spouses of certain H-1B holders while the H-1B worker moved through the process to become a lawful permanent resident sponsored by their employer. Practically H-4 spouses would become eligible for their own work authorization when the “green card” petition is approved by the DHS, even if there are no visa numbers available to go to the next phase.

The proposed rule summarized by the DHS is intended to encourage new investment and new businesses to come to the United States, and it will help the families of some H-1B holders who have been here for a significant period of time and find themselves stuck without being able to work and assimilate into our society. It is a broader proposal than earlier proposals indicated and it shows that DHS is listening to employers and employees with family needs. Regardless if enacted this rule would help a narrow group of people, while other H-1B spouses would not benefit at all.

The second proposed rule would update regulations to make the rules for workers in specialty occupation nonimmigrant classifications for professionals from Chile and Singapore (H-1B1) and Australia (E-3), as well as Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island (CNMI)-Only Transitional Workers (CW-1). H-1B1 and E-3 nonimmigrant visa holders consistent with those for other employer-sponsored nonimmigrant statuses.

The third proposed rule would expand the kinds of contributions outstanding professors and researchers can rely on in the green card process.

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