Skilled Businesses and Workers- Parole Rules
On November 20, 2014, President Obama took Executive Action on immigration. The President modernized and expanded visa programs relating to highly-skilled businesses and workers.
The U.S.’s current employment-based immigration system has extremely long waits for immigrant visas (“green cards”) because of the low number of visas allowed each year. This delay impacts both the potential employee and the employer. Some U.S. companies are unable to attract and retain the highly-skilled workers that are so essential to their business. Consequently, U.S. businesses may rely on temporary visas, such as the H-1B, L-1B, or O-1, to employ individuals with the necessary skills.
President Obama’s Executive Action of November 20, 2014, directs the USCIS to take the following steps to modernize and improve the “green card” process:
- continue and enhance working with the State Department to ensure that all immigrant visas authorized annually are issued
- work with the State Department to improve the system for determining when immigrant visas are available during the year
- The State Department will modify its visa bulletin system to more accurately make such determinations and USCIS will revise its current regulations to reflect and complement the State Department’s modifications
- Consider other regulatory or policy changes to better assist the beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions; specifically consider amending regulations to ensure that approved, long-standing visa petitions remain valid in certain cases when the visa holder seeks to change jobs or employers.
The Executive Action taken on November 20, 2014, also reforms “optional practical training” for foreign students and graduates from U.S. universities. Currently, foreign nationals studying in the United States on non-immigrant F-1 student visas may request twelve additional months of F-1 visa status for "optional practical training", which allows them to time for temporary employment in their relevant field of study. This training may occur before or after graduation and must be approved by the educational institution. Students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields are eligible for an additional 17 months of “optional practical training”, resulting in a total of 29 months of training before or after graduation.
Under the Executive Action, the “optional training program” should be evaluated, strengthened, and improved to enhance American innovation and competitiveness, consistent with current legal authority. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and USCIS are to:
- develop regulations to expand the degree programs eligible for the “optional training program” and extend the time period for foreign STEM students and graduates, consistent with law
- improve the program by requiring stronger ties to degree-granting institutions to better ensure that a student's practical training furthers their full course of study in the U.S.
- take steps to ensure that “optional training program” employment is consistent with U.S. labor market protections
To increase opportunities for foreign inventors, researchers, and founders of start-up enterprises who desire to conduct research and development and create jobs in the U. S., USCIS will implement two administrative improvements to the employment-based immigration system:
- USCIS will issue regulations or guidance to clarify the standard under which the “national interest waiver”, which allows certain immigrants with advanced degrees or exceptional ability to seek immigrant visas without employer sponsorship if admitting them is in the national interest, is granted
- USCIS will propose a program that will allow the Department of Homeland Security to grant parole status to inventors, researcher, and founders of start-up enterprises who have substantial U.S. investor financing or otherwise have the potential for innovation and job creation who may not quality for the “national interest waiver”, on a case-by-case basis, to receive parole authority under the “significant public benefit” section
For the L-1B Visa Program for “intracompany transferees”, USCIS will issue a policy recommendation that will clarify the definition of “specialized knowledge” as it relates to manager and executives of multinational companies who wish to transfer to the U.S.