November 28, 2023

Immigration Green Card

Immigration Is Good For You

US Immigrants: Five new steps the United States has taken to help immigrants

3 min read
The United States has taken a slew of steps over the past couple of months to get visa and immigration services back on track, and clear backlogs post pandemic.

From premium processing to visa extensions for international students, these are the five new changes announced by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) you should take note of.

1. Work authorizations (For spouses of H, E, and L visa holders)

A new guide has been published for work permits of H,E and L spouses.

  • From now on E and L dependent spouses will no longer be required to apply for EADs.
  • Some H-4, E, or L dependent spouses will qualify for automatic extension of their existing employment authorizations and accompanying EADs – provided they properly file an application to renew them before they expire, and have an unexpired Form I-94 showing their existing status.
  • Automatic extension of their EADs will continue until the end date on Form I-94 showing valid status, the approval or denial of the EAD renewal application, or 540 days from the date of expiration of the previous EAD (whichever comes first).

J-1 visa extension

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students, including recent graduates who want to commence academic training no later than 30 days after completion of their STEM-related studies, can now extend their J-1 visas for up to 36 months.

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has also added 22 new fields of study have been added to the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program.

O-1 Visa guidelines

An extended guideline has been published for O-1 work visas for people with remarkable aptitude in certain fields like sciences, education, business, athletics, arts, or in motion picture or television production.

It is significant that the applicant exhibits “extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim, or a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture and television industry, and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.”

The new guideline focuses on submitting an evidence which is of the same significance to that criterion to establish sustained acclaim and recognition in case an applicant exhibits that a particular criterion does not readily apply to their occupation.

4. Premium Processing (For EB-1 and EB-2 holders)

A premium process has been introduced for 140 petitioners who have pending petitions under the EB-1 and EB-2 categories.

The expansion will work in phases :

  • From June 1, 2022: Form I-907 requests for E13 multinational executive and manager petitions (received on or before January 1, 2021) will be accepted.
  • July 1, 2022, onwards: Form I-907 requests for E21 NIW petitions (received on or before June 1, 2021, and E13 multinational executive and manager petitions received on or before March 1, 2021) will be taken into consideration.

The premium processing availability of additional Form I-140 employment petitions, change of status I-539 forms and I-765 EAD forms will continue to take place during the several phases of expansion.

Extension Of Period Of Authorized Work

Certain renewal applicants who have filed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, qualify for an automatic extension of their expiring employment authorization and/or EADs while their application is pending. This includes family, employment, specialty, TPS, asylum, and diversity applicants

This extends the applicant’s authorized period of work from 180 days to 540 days. The USCIS hopes this will help immigrants avoid gaps in employment due to pending EAD renewal applications.

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