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USCIS Announces Final Rule for Employment-Based Immigrant and Non-Immigrant VISA Programs

job-search-276893_640United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently published a final rule designed to modernize and improve several factors behind a number of employment-based visa programs for immigrants and non-immigrants.

The rule expedites the process by which U.S. employers can hire and retain certain foreign workers who received sponsorships for their employment-based visas and are awaiting lawful permanent resident status.

Validity of Employment Authorization Documents Extended

One of the rule’s provisions automatically extends the employment authorization and validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) individuals looking to renew their EADs in the same category for employment eligibility.

In these kinds of situations, a foreign worker with an expired EAD can use that same EAD in tandem with Form I-797C, Notice of Action, in the renewal process as a List A document for Form I-9.

USCIS announced that the rule takes effect on January 17, 2017.

The Department of Homeland Security is also amending a number of immigration regulations, which include:

  • The rule clarifies and improves established DHS policies and procedures applying sections of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act and the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement in the context of assisting foreign workers.
  • It allows employers to provide job stability and job flexibility to high-skilled foreign workers who are beneficiaries of employment-based visas.
  • The rule allows workers to further their careers by being eligible for promotions, lateral movement within the organization, and seeking employment opportunities elsewhere.
  • It improves job portability for beneficiaries of Form I-140 petitions by maintaining the visa’s validity under special circumstances, even after an employer’s withdrawal of the petition or closing of the employer’s business.
  • The rule also expands and clarifies when visa holders may keep their priority date when changing their immigration status to lawful permanent residence.
  • It allows select high-skilled foreign workers with E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1 or O-1 nonimmigrant status (plus all inclusive grace periods) to apply for employment authorization with a certain timeframe if:
    • They are the principal holders of a valid Form I-140 petition
    • An immigrant visa is not valid for granting for their priority date
    • They prove that special circumstances call for the DHs to issue an employment authorization document

This kind of employment authorization is available in unique circumstances and only one every year.

  • Clarify rules and practices related to the handling of H-1B petitions, such as granting H-1B status after the six-year grace period for admission authorization, identifying cap exemptions, and including workers under the H-1B cap, H-1B portability, licensure requirements and protections for informants.

For a full list and breakdown of the USCIS rule for employment-based working visa holders, schedule a consultation with the immigration law team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today at (512) 215.5225 to learn how our services can help you.