In a speech to the nation in November, President Obama announced several initiatives to facilitate the hiring and retention of skilled workers. The President laid out a broad outline for administrative reform, with several agency directives now published on the DHS website. The timing of the implementation of each discrete action will be different, with some taking place very soon and others, particularly those requiring regulatory review, taking several months or longer. Here is a brief summary of the President’s initiatives pertaining to employment based immigration:
Ability to File Adjustment of Status Applications Earlier: The President’s action includes revamping the way that the employment-based green card backlog is administered, with the goal of allowing for the earlier filing of adjustment of status applications. Once implemented, both principal applicants and dependent family members would be able to obtain employment authorization and advance parole at an earlier point in time. Since adjustment of status applications could be filed earlier, green card portability would also be facilitated The proposal is expected to be published in the Federal Register, though it is unclear whether it would appear as a proposed or interim rule. If the former, it may take quite a while before final promulgation.
H-4 Spousal Employment: Finalization of the new rule permitting employment authorization for certain H-4 spouses of H-1B workers in the green card process is expected in the next two months. Further expansion of spousal work authorization is also being considered.
Expansion of STEM OPT: The President plans to accelerate inter-agency discussions to expand Optional Practical Training (OPT) opportunities for F-1 students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Proposed changes are expected to include expansion and extension of the existing program and to require an ongoing link between work and course of study through continued ties between OPT students and their schools after graduation.
Source: Fragomen.com, 11/21/2014