Ep. 18 What can those with employment visas benefit from Obama’s executive action? (Part 2)

Continuation of Episode 17: Employment-based executive action

• Optional Practical Training (OPT), typically allowing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics students to work for a year. Changes would expand coverage of OPT occupations and extend validity of OPT

• Opportunities for foreign investors, researchers and founders of startups; allow them to stay here and conduct research and get special parole if they have ongoing projects

• Scientists and researchers in the US can get national interest waiver where no employer would be needed as long as they have high merits

• Efficient adjudication of L visa

• Review of PERM process to make it more effective

• Work authorization for spouses of H-1B visa holder

Raw Transcript:

Introduction: You ask we answer your immigration questions. Simple. And now your host immigration lawyer Jacob Sapochnick.

Jacob: Hello everybody, we’re back in Ask An Immigration Lawyer Podcast and this is part two of the Executive Action Employment Base changes. So, previously I covered the points talking about visa wait times and changes state department are going to be taking. In this episode I want to dive in to some of the more exciting changes in the employment based executive action announcements.

Well, Optional Practical Training students, this has been a great program for students to be able to work in the US. Typically when a student graduates in university in the US they are allowed to work for one year under an Optional Practical Training permit called an OPT.

Well, typically the OPT’s are given for about a year and a few years ago the government has made it change and authorized people that have degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, also known as STEM fields, who already eligible for OPT to work longer in the US and they extended it for several more months to do this.

Well, under the changes that Obama has announced that this is going to expand opportunities for students to be able to use the OPT and expand the occupations that are going to be part of this OPT work authorization which is very exciting because now not just limited to stand but other related areas are going to be also be included in this in the validity of time for the OPT will also be extended.

So we’re waiting to see what that’s going to be about when the regulations are going to come out but that’s really hopefully because right now since the H1B visa is so limited and when we don’t have H1B visas anymore then students that are graduating are not able to work. And with the expansion of the OPT program it will definitely be much easier for students to be able to stay and work here. So it’s a very important program. It provides important benefits to foreign students and the US economy.

Obama said that the OPT should be evaluated, strengthened and he is directing regulations to expand the degree programs eligible for OPT which is really what we need. So that’s great.

Another opportunity that Obama mentioned in his announcement is opportunities for foreign investors, researchers, founders of startups, enterprises to allow them to stay here and conduct research. Those people are going to be able to get a special parole if they have a project that they are working on.

Under the 212D5 parole they’ll be able to stay here and then do their projects and … they’re going to have to show that they have financing and a viable project. But if there’s no other visa available they’re going to be able to stay here on a parole and finish their projects which is great. This is something that we are really waiting for and see how that’s going to be implemented.

The other part is scientist and researchers that are in the US and are eligible for what is called the National Interest Waiver. So this is a green card application that does not require an employer and that right now we have to show that the person is somebody with high merits, advance degree and that the other project is in the interest of United States. It’s a pretty, pretty difficult standard to prove. And so the president said that they’re going to expand the parole, the National Interest Waiver program to offer it to startup founders that have an exciting idea and will fall within the new guideline.

So this is something that is really interesting to see, to see how they’re going to expand it and who is going to be able to benefit from this but this is going to be a great opportunity for founders to be able to stay and get a green card with a … quick, fairly quickly and we’re very excited about it. So, special parole for inventors and founders and expansion of the national interest waiver for green card without an employer.

Another thing that he mentioned is guidance to ensure greater consistency in the adjudication of L visas. L visas have been very tough. People who were trying to get L visas these days which is almost impossible. So he’s going to expand the concept of what is specialized knowledge in L visas which is going to [inaudible 00:05:06]. We’re going to get some guidance and it’s going to be much more effective to get L visas these days.

He’s going to be announcing the options to allow people who are filing from green card in employment based categories to be able to change jobs also known as Porting. Some of these people that are waiting in the EB3 category they can’t move anywhere because they cannot file for their adjustments. Apparently it’s going to be possible to file for a work permit and a travel document while you’re waiting for your priority date and also for more flexibility to move to another employer. And we’re waiting, I’m excited to see those changes and want to see that.

Another thing that we’ve seen is changes in the processing of green cards under the PERM process, Labor Certification. It’s getting some major changes there and they’re going to review that whole PERM process and see how that can be also more effective. That’s something that we’re also waiting to see.

And finally one of the most exciting changes is the work authorization for spouses of H1B workers. Currently spouses of H1B workers are not eligible for work authorization which is very frustrating because they really need to work. So we are very excited about this change and we are waiting to see when we can use that – probably the next few months, get some [regs 00:06:31]. But, yeah, H1B spouses could start working soon and that’s very, very exciting.

So these are the main highlights of the changes in the employment base visas as announced by President Obama in the Executive Order. Again, nothing is effective yet. Let’s wait 90 days from November 20th but it’s coming. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll see you at our next episode of Ask An Immigration Lawyer.

Closing: Thank you for listening to the Ask My Immigration Lawyer Podcast, the show that’s dedicated to answering your immigration questions. Simple as that. See you next week for another round of questions and much needed answers.