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USCIS to modernize employment based visas

November 23, 2016
USCIS amd Nawash Law Office

WASHINGTON- USCIS has published a final rule to modernize and improve several aspects of certain employment-based visa programs. USCIS has also amended regulations to better enable U.S. employers to hire and retain certain foreign workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions and are waiting to become lawful permanent residents. This rule goes into effect on Jan. 17, 2017.

Among other things, DHS is amending its regulations to:

  • Better enable U.S. employers to employ and retain high-skilled workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions (Form I-140 petitions). The rule increases the ability of these workers to further their careers by accepting promotions, changing positions with current employers, changing employers and pursuing other employment opportunities.
  • Beneficiaries of approved I-140 petitions may maintain a petition's validity despite an employer's withdrawal of approved petition or termination of the employer's business.
  • Expand when individuals may keep their priority date when applying for adjustment of status to permanent residence.
  • Allow certain high-skilled individuals in the United States with E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1 or O-1 to apply for employment authorization for a limited period if:
  1. They are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140 petition,
  2. An immigrant visa is not authorized for issuance for their priority date, and
  3. They can demonstrate compelling circumstances exist that justify DHS issuing an employment authorization document in its discretion.

Such employment authorization may only be renewed in limited circumstances and only in one year increments.

  • Establish two grace periods of up to 10 days for individuals in the E-1, E-2, E-3, L-1, and TN classifications to provide time for these individuals to prepare to begin employment in the country and to depart the United States or take other actions to extend, change, or otherwise maintain lawful status.
  • Establish a grace period of up to 60 consecutive days for certain high-skilled nonimmigrant workers when their employment ends before the end of their authorized validity period, so they may more readily pursue new employment and an extension of their nonimmigrant status.
  • Automatically extend the employment authorization (Form I-766s) for certain individuals who apply on time to renew their Employment authorization.
  • Eliminate the provision that requires USCIS to adjudicate Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, within 90 days of filing.

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