Immigration Alert: USCIS Announces Significant Administrative Reforms Aimed to Promote Competitiveness, Startups, and Stimulate Job Creation
Following President Obama’s most recent State of the Union address, on January 31, 2012 USCIS released a Fact Sheet summarizing the President’s current actions and future goals with respect to attracting and retaining highly-skilled immigrants.
President Obama’s Goals:
Increase U.S. competitiveness by attracting new talent, businesses, investment, and creating the most skilled workforce in the world. Some of the possible initiatives introduced include:
- Creating a “Startup Visa” for entrepreneurs
- Strengthening the H-1B program
- Automatic green card eligibility for foreign born graduates of US institutions in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) fields
Administrative Reforms Announced:
DHS announced a series of Administrative reforms, which will be completed in the future, intended to stimulate US Job creation and attract highly skilled foreign students and workers:
- Expand eligibility for 17-month extension of optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 international students to include students with a prior degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and expansion of eligible STEM degree programs
- Allow for additional part-time academic study for spouses of F-1 students (currently only part-time vocational or recreational classes permitted)
- Expand the number of Designated School Officials (DSOs) at schools certified by DHS to enroll international students.
- Provide work authorization for spouses of H-1B holders who have filed an adjustment of status application.
- Allow outstanding professors and researchers to present a broader scope of evidence of academic achievement, i.e. “comparable evidence” beyond the specifically articulated regulatory list.
- Permit E-3 visa holders from Australia and H-1B1 visa holders from Singapore and Chile to continue working with their current employer for up to 240 days while their petitions for extension of status are pending.
- On February 22, 2012, USCIS will launch Entrepreneurs in Residence initiative, bringing together high-level representatives from the entrepreneurial community, academia, and federal government agencies to discuss how to maximize current immigration laws’ potential to attract foreign entrepreneurial talent.