Foreign nationals waiting patiently for their turn to apply for permanent residence were given a real boost by the Department of Homeland Security recently. On January 17th, a few new rules took effect that are aimed at streamlining the sponsorship process that employers and employees must go through to achieve working status. Specifically, the new laws help foreign nationals waiting to apply for green card status, and also helps some workers with temporary status under H-1B, TN, and E visas.
Summary of Changes
Here is a rundown of the major changes to immigration regulations:
- Workers waiting to have their status assessed will not have to re-submit an application if they change employers. In the past, employees could only make one application and had to wait until it was adjudicated. Due to administrative holdups the adjudication process was taking so long that employees were applying numerous times for different positions. This only slowed the system down even more. This new rule applies to EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 visa categories and creates a lot more leeway for workers in their application status.
- Workers with IV status will not have their status revoked if their prospective employer goes out of business. In the past, employers that were going out of business would revoke the IV application they had initiated. This only caused a nuisance for the worker who would otherwise be able to find a similar employer to finish the application. This new rule does exactly that: it allows a worker to retain their status and find a suitable employer to hire them. This keeps the system moving at a faster pace rather than stopping and starting as it has been for years.
- Workers with E, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1, O-1, or TN visas will have a grace period of 60 days to find new employment after their first contract ends. The length of a visa contract is usually 6 years, and before this change workers had to re-apply from square one again. This is another expedient change that will make it easier for workers who already have status to retain that status and pursue meaningful work in the long-term. Ensuring workplace stability has broadly positive ramifications on the employer’s potential for growth, the psychological health of the worker themselves, and the overall economic growth of the American economy.
As of yet nothing has changed regarding PERM application procedures. Permanent labor certification is still the first step for aspiring foreign nationals and domestic employers, requiring an initial domestic job search with ads on job boards and print media. However, these new laws are a welcome change for employers and employees, some of whom have been stuck in legal limbo for years.