Immigration and firm news

Changes to EB-1, H-1B1, E-3 and other Work Visas Proposed

USCIS has issued proposed rules to enhance the usability of some work visas to make some of the procedures less disruptive for employers and employees and to attract and retain international experts.  The Obama Administration is trying to improve some of the visa issues that make it difficult for employers to keep or attract highly skilled foreign workers. Comments by the public are due on or before July 11, 2014.  Comments can be emailed to Include DHS Docket No. USCIS-2012-0005-0001 in the subject line of the message. Or, comments can be submitted online. Some of the proposed fixes have been needed for years and should make life easier for both employers and employees.  These include the following:

EB-1 Outstanding Researchers and Professors

The rule would add to the list of criteria that an applicant could choose from to include a “catch-all” criterion called “other comparable evidence.” EB-1 researchers and professors must demonstrate that they are internationally recognized as outstanding in their field by proving at least two of six criteria.  In the context of O-1 and EB-1 extraordinary ability workers and EB-2 exceptional ability workers, these categories already have the “other comparable evidence” criterion as an option among other criteria on the list.  The catch-all criterion is intended to be in addition to or in lieu of the other currently existing six criteria when they just don’t completely fit the occupation or the level of acclaim the applicant may have received in the field.  In the proposed rule, USCIS contemplates that some optional types of evidence that would fall into “other comparable evidence” might include patents in the researcher’s name or prestigious peer-reviewed grants or funding.  The intent of the proposed change is to allow US companies and institutions of higher learning to attract top quality professors and researchers and to bring this category more in line with the extraordinary ability and exceptional ability regulatory schemes.

H-1B1, CW-1 and E-3 Workers

The proposed rule would bring H-1B1, CW-1 and E-3 workers more in line with existing H-1B and L-1 workers in several ways. H-1B1 workers are specialty occupation workers from Chile and Singapore. Although most of this program tracks the H-1B general program, there are some rules that are different as is the quota.  CW-1 workers are transitional workers in various occupations employed in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as it transitions to the federal immigration scheme.  CW-1 has its own scheme. E-3 workers are Australian nationals who are specialty occupation workers, but the processing scheme differs from the standard H-1B scheme as well.

The first important change would allow all of these workers to apply for extensions of stay and be work authorized for up to 240 days while the extension applications are pending. Currently, this group of workers must either leave the US and consular process or make sure they file for a new extension as early as six months in advance to insure continuity of work authorization.  Otherwise, there could be a gap in continued work authorization.

The second change would update the rules concerning those individuals authorized to work incident to status. This would bring work authorization rules in conformity with other existing rules such as for H-1B and L-1 workers.  Another regulatory change would add this group of workers to the list of workers authorized to change status or employers and continue working pending adjudication of the request.