Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new rule on November 18, 2016, that impacts the H-1B program. For the most part, this rule simply and formally adopted prior informal USCIS guidance. However, there were two notable changes:
- Grace Period—H-1B employees’ immigration status is tied to their employment with the employer that filed an H-1B petition on their behalf. Previously, this meant that if an H-1B employee was terminated, laid off, or quit, that employee was immediately considered “out of status.” Fortunately, the new rule creates a grace period for H-1B employees whose employment ends prematurely. Now, these employees will not be considered to have failed to maintain their immigration status for 60 days from the date they stopped working or the end date of their approved H-1B petition, whichever comes first. This new provision creates much greater flexibility for H-1B employees to find new employment in the United States.
- Exceptions to the Six-Year Maximum—H-1B employees are generally limited to a maximum of six years in H-1B status. The new rule formally implements prior legislation that created exceptions to the six-year maximum for certain H-1B employees who have started the employment-based green card process, but cannot complete that process due to processing delays or backlogs. However, H-1B employees who are eligible to complete the green card process, but who fail to make the final filing necessary to complete the process within one year of when they are eligible to do so, will no longer be eligible for additional H-1B extensions. This is an important departure from prior practice.
The new rule went into effect on January 17, 2017. More about H-1B visas, including information about proposed legislation, will be available in the May issue of NACE Journal.