"I-140 EAD Rule" Submitted to OMB For Final Review

This week the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) submitted The Proposed Rule for Retention of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting Highly-Skilled H-1B Nonimmigrant Workers, (frequently referred to as the "I-140-EAD Rule") to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final review prior to publication.

The Proposed Rule was published at the end of 2015 and the public comment period lasted for the first 2 months of 2016. Since that time DHS been reviewing the public comments that were submitted in response to the proposed rule.  The OMB review process is expected to take 30-60 days and, upon completion, a final rule will be published and would be expected to take effect after 60 days from publication. At present DHS has not indicated whether any significant changes have been made to the rule in response to public comments to the Proposed Rule.

D&S will continue to monitor developments and provide updates as they become available.

DHS Proposes New Rule Impacting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers

On the last day of 2015, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed rule entitled the Retention of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers.  Some of the principal changes that the new rule would bring include:

  • Clarifying and improving longstanding agency policies and procedures implementing sections of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21) and the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (ACWIA) related to certain foreign workers, which will enhance USCIS’ consistency in adjudication.
  • Better enabling U.S. employers to employ and retain certain foreign workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment based immigrant visa petitions (I-140 Petitions) while also providing stability and job flexibility to these workers. The proposed rule will increase the ability of such workers to further their careers by accepting promotions, making position changes with current employers, changing employers, and pursuing other employment opportunities.
  • Improving job portability for certain beneficiaries of approved I-140 petitions by limiting the grounds for automatic revocation of petition approval.
  • Clarifying when individuals may keep their priority date to use when applying for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence, including when USCIS has revoked the approval of their approved I-140 petitions because the employer withdrew the petition or because the employer’s business shut down.
  • Allowing certain high-skilled individuals in the United States in E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1, or O-1 nonimmigrant status to apply for one year of unrestricted employment authorization if they:
    1. Are the beneficiaries of an approved I-140 petition;
    2. Remain unable to adjust status due to visa unavailability; and
    3. Can demonstrate that compelling circumstances exist which justify issuing an employment authorization document.
  • Clarifying various policies and procedures related to the adjudication of H-1B petitions, including, among other things, extensions of status, determining cap exemptions and counting workers under the H-1B visa cap, H-1B portability, licensure requirements, and protections for whistleblowers.
  • Establishing a one-time grace period during an authorized validity period of up to 60 days for certain high-skilled nonimmigrant workers whenever their employment ends so that they may more readily pursue new employment and an extension of their nonimmigrant status.

The proposed rule appears to be an implementation of the immigration executive actions announced in November 2014, although DHS does not state this affirmatively. DHS will accept comments through February 29, 2016, and should publish a final rule by December 19, 2016, prior to the end of the current Administration.

D&S will continue to monitor developments with the proposed rule and provide updates as they become available.

USCIS Releases Policy Memorandum on “AC21” Green Card Portability

USCIS released a Draft AC21 Policy Memorandum which seeks to clarify what constitutes “the same or similar occupational classification” for purposes of portability under The  American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (“AC21”) in order to provide more predictability, efficiency, and consistency in AC21 portability determinations.

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