The USCIS has recently issued a statement on their official position regarding highly-skilled immigration. The report, issued on November 18th, has changed the game for those looking to employ foreign nationals in the United States. The major shift in the administrative management of PERM applications is referred to as the ‘Final Rule.’ Though it might sound dire, the Final Rule is simply a formalization of a number of different practices in the USCIS offices in recent years. So what are these formalizations?
Components to the ‘Final Rule’
Most of the components in the Final Rule are focused on expanding timelines and opportunities for immigrants or foreign nationals who are part-way through their application procedure. For example:
Extension for H1 Visa Applicants – Foreign nationals who are midway through their green card application for an H1 visa can rest a little bit more easily. They, along with their employer, have the option of a one-year or three-year extension. The H 1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows employers to hire foreign nationals on a temporary basis. This is an important step for PERM applicants because it allows them more time to get the paperwork straightened out.
Once In the System there is Some Freedom of Movement – Another component of the Final Rule is to give more freedom to status holding immigrants or nonimmigrants. Specifically, the ruling states that individuals can change their employers names or their occupational title without negatively affecting their green card status. This is quite helpful for PERM applicants because it allows them to change their occupational title to match the Department of Labor’s recommendations. The DOL will issue a certificate of application only for specific jobs which there are not enough domestic workers to fill.
The Application Stays Valid for Longer – If an employer goes out of business or does not hold up to their side of the application bargain, a foreign national will not immediately lose their working status in the eyes of the USCIS. It is their responsibility to find another job and include this job in their application. This is extremely helpful to PERM applicants because the status of the job is now less important than the skills of the foreign national. If they have the skills and are already in the system, then it’s only a matter of time before they will find a job.
These are some of the structural changes brought into effect by the Final Rule. The implications for PERM applicants are generally positive, in that foreign nationals can retain their status in the USCIS for longer than before. Employers still need to prove that their domestic advertising initiatives yielded no results – that component of PERM might be changed in the coming years – but at least foreigners are being given more status in the eyes of the American administration.