The executive actions announced by US President Barack Obama would streamline legal immigration and benefit thousands of Indians who currently have to undergo a painful and agonising process to get Legal Permanent Status (LPR), also known as Green Card.
“After almost nine years of hard work on the issue of skilled immigration backlogs, we finally have good news to report,” said Aman Kapoor of Immigration Voice, a NGO that tackles problems faced by high-skilled foreign workers in the US.
Obama’s executive actions provides portable work authorisation for high-skilled workers awaiting LPR status. Under the current system, employees with approved LPR applications often wait many years for their visa to become available, a White House factsheet said.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will make regulatory changes to allow these workers to move or change jobs more easily. DHS is finalising new rules to give certain H-1B spouses employment authorisation as long as the H-1B spouse has an approved LPR application.
Kapoor said going forward, it will be easier to use a new provision called “Pre-Register” where employees who have approved labour and I-140 would be able to gain benefits of adjustment of status even when the dates are not current.
“This has been, by far, the most sought after and in-demand provision for us in last 9 years. Skilled employees would be able to switch jobs, apply for Employment Authorisation Document and advance parole and also not have to worry about the new job being the same or similar, as the new administrative order liberalises the definition of what constitutes same or similar job,” he said.
“In addition to this, the administration is making it possible to port the green-card petition from one employer to another so that applicants do not have to start with labour certification again should their employment end after they are quite far along in the process,” Kapoor said.
“Spouses who are on H-4 visa would be able to apply for work permit and receive EAD via the proposed H-4 EAD rule. Additionally, they will also qualify for an EAD through the pre-registration step with primary applicant of green-card process. This will make life easier for thousands of skilled family members who get left out of opportunities due to H1B quota restrictions,” Kapoor said.
Following Obama’s actions, DHS will expand immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment, and generating revenue in the US, to ensure that the US system encourages them to grow the economy.
The criteria will include income thresholds so that these individuals are not eligible for certain public benefits like welfare or tax credits under the Affordable Care Act, the White House said.