Credit: Ray Clancy-Expat Forum

The United States has amended some visa rules to make it easier for employers to hire and retain certain foreign workers.

The changes modernise and improve several aspects of employment-based immigrant visa programmes.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has also amended regulations for employers to hire and retain certain foreign workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions and are waiting to become lawful permanent residents.
 
The changes will be effective from 17 January 2017 with the aim of allowing employers to better retain skilled workers, provide stability for overseas workers and enhance their job flexibility.
‘The change increases the ability of these workers to further their careers by accepting promotions, changing positions with current employers, changing employers and pursuing other employment opportunities,’ said a USCIS spokesman.

They will also improve job portability for certain beneficiaries of approved Form I-140 petitions by maintaining a petition’s validity under certain circumstances despite an employer’s withdrawal of the approved petition or the termination of the employer’s business.
And the rules clarify and expand when individuals may keep their priority date when applying for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence.

It will also help overseas workers whose visa is not authorised in time as if they may be able to obtain an employment authorisation document allowing them to work for up to a year.
H-1B applicants may be able to continue with their status beyond the six year authorised period of admission under certain circumstances.

There will also be the creation of two grace periods of up to 10 days for individuals in the E-1, E-2, E-3, L-1, and TN non-immigrant classifications to provide a reasonable amount of time for these individuals to prepare to begin employment in the country and to depart the United States or take other actions to extend, change, or otherwise maintain lawful status.

And a grace period of up to 60 consecutive days during each authorised validity period for certain high skilled non-immigrant workers when their employment ends before the end of their authorised validity period, so they may more readily try to find new employment and an extension of their non-immigrant status.
‘The United States welcomes thousands of foreign workers in multiple occupations or employment categories every year. All foreign workers must obtain permission to work legally in the United States,’ the USCIS spokesman pointed out.

‘Each employment category for admission has different requirements, conditions and authorised periods of stay. It is important that workers adhere to the terms of their application or petition for admission and visa. Any violation can result in removal or denial of re-entry into the United States,’ he added.