US non-immigrant employees to benefit from rule change

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published a long-awaited final rule that will benefit many highly skilled non-immigrant foreign employees, employment-based immigrant workers, and their employers.

The new regulation, which is due to take effect on 17th January, is intended to streamline employer sponsorship of non-immigrant workers for lawful permanent resident status, increase job portability for such workers, and provide more consistency and transparency in the application of DHS policies to these programs.

“After more than a decade, USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) has finally issued regulations interpreting legislation passed in 2001 which assist both highly skilled immigrants and non-immigrants in a comprehensive way,” said Stewart Rabinowitz, a Dallas immigration attorney with Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz. “It is a welcome change basing practice advice to clients on regulations, and not on USCIS issued memoranda, or other less reliable sources.”

Among other things, the rule creates 10-day grace periods for a number of temporary work visa categories and formalises a grace period of 60 days for employees who become unemployed while under temporary work visa status. This will give them the opportunity to file a new visa petition with another company instead of being immediately deemed out of status.

The rule clarifies several policies affecting H-1B employment, including the codification of H-1B portability requirements. The final rule also incorporates modifications in green card portability that allow highly skilled workers with employment-based immigrant visa petitions to accept new positions with different employers or change positions with their present employer, so long as the new job is in a similar field.

DHS said the goal of the new regulation was to assist US firms in employing and retaining highly skilled workers with employment-based visa petitions, while helping these workers further their careers.

Article published 10th January 2017