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DHS Proposes New H-1B Visa Rule to Help High-Skilled Foreign Workers

Visa-applicationOn December 31, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a new rule to help resolve a large visa backlog by allowing high-skilled, foreign workers to remain in the country and switch jobs more easily while waiting to become lawful permanent residents. The agency has stated that the rules are aimed at those individuals who have already been approved for a permanent work visa but are not able to receive their green card because of the visa backlog — the number of permanent employment-based visas that the United States can hand out annually is capped at 140,000.

The proposal seeks to provide certainty to U.S. employers seeking to retain high-skilled temporary workers who are sponsored for lawful permanent residence by allowing H-1B nonimmigrant workers to extend their nonimmigrant status, beyond the initial six-year limit of the H-1B program, in three-year intervals. Furthermore, the proposal would allow certain foreign workers and those temporary visa holders greater flexibility with regards to career progression without the fear of losing their spot in line for a green card — the current visa backlogs can delay this process from a few months to as much as 10 years (a more in-depth list of the policies and practices DHS intends to clarify can be found here).

Critics of the proposal believe the new rules will raise new national security concerns and take jobs away from the American worker by providing thousands of extra green cards to H-1B visa holders who are currently unable to get green cards due to the annual quotas.

CUPA-HR is currently evaluating the 181-page proposal and will keep members apprised of further developments as we learn more. The comment period on the proposal is slated to close on February 29, 2016.

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