USCIS Proposed Rule May Improve Certain Employment-Based Visa Programs

USCIS recently announced a proposed rule intended to improve certain features of employment-based visa programs. Other changes were also proposed that would make it easier for U.S. employers to hire and retain certain individuals whose employment-based immigrant visa petitions have been approved and are waiting to obtain permanent residency.

Proposed Changes

Some of the highlighted proposed changes would help achieve the following:

  • Make it easier for workers in possession of approved I-140 petitions to accept promotions and change positions with their current employers, change employers, and pursue different employment opportunities.
  • Limit the grounds for automatic revocation of petition approval, as a result improving job portability for certain workers with approved I-140 petitions.
  • Allow individuals to may keep their priority date for applying for adjustment of status (as long as they have an approved I-140 petition), including situations in which USCIS has revoked their I-140 petition approval due to certain employer actions.
  • Allow certain E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1, and O-1 nonimmigrants to apply for one year of unrestricted employment authorization given that they:
    • Have an approved I-140 petition;
    • Are unable to adjust status to permanent residency due to visa unavailability; and
    • Are able to demonstrate justified reasons for their obtaining an EAD.
  • Clarify policies and procedures that determine the adjudication of H-1B petitions, including things such as extensions of status, cap exemptions, and H-1B portability, among others.
  • Establish a one-time 60-day grace period for certain nonimmigrants whose employment periods have ended and are no longer eligible to work.

Implementation of Proposed Rule

The proposed changes will not take effect until USCIS publishes the final rule in the Federal Register. Until then, public comments on this proposed rule are being accepted until February 29, 2016.
To submit comments, you can do so by:

Check back for updates on the final rule in the weeks following the USCIS deadline for submitting comments on the proposed rule.