New proposals for immigration changes sans Congress

The Department of Homeland Security has announced two new proposals to allow 100,000 skilled immigrant workers to become eligible for work visas.  This is the latest step toward a change in policy and would get around the continued intransigence of Congress when it comes to addressing this issue.

The new proposals, which have the aim of making it easier to attract and keep highly-skilled immigrants in the United States, were announced yesterday morning by the secretary of commerce, Penny Pritzker, and DHS deputy secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.  The proposals would remove obstacles to staying in the country for some temporary workers and offer employment US visas for a number of the spouses of these workers.

H-1B US visas are temporary employment permits used by overseas workers with technical or theoretical expertise in specific fields such as science, computer programming or engineering.  At the moment H-1B US visa holders are granted a stay duration of three years, which can be extended to six years and even up to a decade in very special circumstances; however, there are a number of obstacles that can make it tough for such workers to stay in the United States after the expiry of their visa.

The rules announced yesterday aim to remove at least some of those obstacles, particularly for highly-skilled professionals such as researchers and professionals from countries such as Australia, Chile, Singapore and the Northern Mariana Islands, which are given work authorization and extension priority over other nations.