The Impact of Executive Actions on Employment-Based Immigration

Jennifer L. Cory, Esq., Partner
N.C. Board Certified Immigration Law Specialist

As we recently reported on our website, President Obama announced a new Executive Action pertaining to U.S. immigration on Thursday, November 20, 2014. The Executive Action includes the following initiatives with respect to policies supporting the hiring of highly-skilled workers by U.S. businesses:

Modernizing the Employment-Based Immigrant Visa System to improve wait times for immigrant visas ("green cards") as well as provide better stability for beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions. Approved, long-standing visa petitions would remain valid in certain cases where beneficiaries seek to change jobs or employers.

Expanding Optional Practical Training for Foreign Graduates of U.S. Universities by extending the duration of Optional Practical Training (OPT) available to those foreign students who have earned STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) degrees and by expanding eligible fields of study.

Promoting Research and Development in the U.S. to provide enhanced opportunities for foreign investors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises in the U.S. Individuals, on a case-by-case basis, would be paroled into the U.S. temporarily to pursue research and development as well as new business.

Bringing Consistency to L-1B (Specialized Knowledge) Visa Application Adjudications. The L-1B visa category is reserved for "intracompany transferees" who acquired abroad "specialized knowledge" of a multinational company's products, services, operations, procedures, etc. and are coming to apply that knowledge to a related U.S. entity. Adjudication of L-1B visa petitions by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has been highly inconsistent. To address this problem, USCIS is tasked with issuing a memorandum to provide clear guidance on the definition of "specialized knowledge."

Improving Worker Portability. Under current policy, a green card applicant facing a long waits for an immigrant visa is allowed to change jobs if the new job is the "same or similar" to the job described in the green card application. This initiative would clarify what job changes qualify and would allow an applicant to accept a promotion as a natural career progression.

Timeframes for implementing these policies?

The USCIS and other interested agencies are tasked with implementing these policies as soon as possible. Some of these policies will take form over the next several months while others will take longer. Garfinkel Law Firm is committed to providing updates via our website, newsletter and Facebook pages as they become available.