• Proposals Seek to Retain Highly Skilled Workers, Extend Authorization to H-4 Dependents

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
    June 18, 2014

    In May, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the publication of two proposed rules created to help attract new businesses to the United States and strengthen its work force.

    The proposed rules would:

    • Extend employment authorization to spouses of certain H-1B workers.
    • Enhance opportunities for certain groups of highly skilled workers by removing obstacles to their remaining in the United States.

    The first rule would allow H-4 dependent spouses of certain H-1B workers to request employment authorization, as long as the H-1B worker has already started the process of seeking lawful permanent residence through employment, Jackson Lewis LLC reports.

    Under existing regulations, DHS does not extend employment authorization to dependents—also referred to as H-4 nonimmigrants—of H-1B nonimmigrant workers.

    The second proposed change updates regulations to:

    • Include nonimmigrant, high-skilled specialty occupation professionals from Chile and Singapore (H-1B1) and from Australia (E-3) in the list of classes of aliens authorized for employment incident to status with a specific employer.
    • Allow E-3, H-1B1 and CW-1 (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) nonimmigrant workers up to 240 days of continued work authorization beyond their current expiration while a timely filed extension request is pending.
    • Expand the current list of evidentiary criteria for employment-based first preference (EB-1) to outstanding professors and researchers.