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he President announced that he was going to take executive action to implement several aspects of what has come to be referred to as immigration reform. His plan is far short of what we generally refer to as comprehensive immigration reform, in part because most of the key aspects require Congressional approval – i.e. they must be laws, not regulations. Here are the key elements of the forthcoming actions (business-friendly aspects first):

  • Expanding and extending Optional Practical Training (OPT) for recent graduates

  • New visa options for foreign entrepreneurs

  • Rule changes for Permanent Residents that would allow them to change jobs more readily while they’re waiting for their Green Card number to come (this can take years, sometimes)

  • Work authority for spouses of H-1B visa holders, if there’s a Green Card application pending

  • Updating rules for transferring foreign workers to work at U.S. facilities (L-1 visas)

  • Temporary work authority and legal status for eligible parents of U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents

  • Prioritizing deportation of criminals over families — gang members, criminals, recent illegal entrants, and terrorists will be the focus of deportation, not longtime residents with no criminal history

  • More resources to secure border with Mexico

  • Expanding DREAM Act to include more undocumented people brought to U.S. as children

It may be a while before we understand many of the particulars of the process and visa changes that will offer the most excitement to business interests.  Details are scant today, but in the next six months or so we should have a better understanding of what this means for these aspects of our immigration system.

Thompson Coe and myHRgenius Tip of the Week is not intended as a solicitation, does not constitute legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


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