Friday, November 28, 2014

Part of the Obama Plan: Support High-skilled Business and Workers

As fleshed out in some detail by the Department of Homeland Security, President Obama's recently announced immigration plan has quite a few components. One item on the list of immigration initiatives is "Support High-skilled Business and Workers.  DHS will take a number of administrative actions to better enable U.S. businesses to hire and retain highly skilled foreign-born workers and strengthen and expand opportunities for students to gain on-the-job training. For example, because our immigration system suffers from extremely long waits for green cards, we will amend current regulations and make other administrative changes to provide needed flexibility to workers with approved employment-based green card petitions."

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson in a memorandum to the heads of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement begins:

"I hereby direct the new policies and regulations outlined below. These new policies and regulations will be good for both U.S. businesses and workers by continuing to grow our economy and create jobs . They will support our country's high-skilled businesses and workers by better enabling U.S . businesses to hire and retain highly skilled foreign-born workers while providing these workers with increased flexibility to make natural advancements with their current employers or seek similar opportunities elsewhere. This increased mobility will also ensure a more-level playing field for U.S. workers. Finally, these measures should increase agency e f ficiencies and save resources."

The memorandum identifies the following steps to be taken:

Modernizing the Employment-Based Immigrant Visa System

Reforming "Optional Practical Training" for Foreign Students and Graduates from U.S. Universities

Promoting Research and Development in the United States Bringing Greater Consistency to the L-lB Visa Program

Increasing Worker Portability

The details in the memorandum offer modest attempts at regulatory planning and reform to marginally improve the ability of high-skilled workers to immigrate and remain in the United States.


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