The Obama administration is helping some high-skilled, foreign workers remain in the country without being tied to their employers. The Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday new rules that would allow certain visa holders to switch jobs more easily while waiting for a green card, The Hill reported.
The White House said the 181-page proposal would help resolve a massive visa backlog. It would also allow workers under the H-1B high-skilled temporary visa program waiting to become permanent residents to stay beyond the six-year limit of the H-1B program. The U.S. has limits on how many work visas can be granted each year.
“Simply put, many workers in the immigrant visa process are not free to consider all available employment and career development opportunities,” DHS said in the proposed rules.
The visa delays can leave foreign workers, mainly those in China and India looking to work in tech jobs, waiting for as many as 10 years to obtain the proper documents. “In many instances, these individuals are in the United States in a nonimmigrant, employer-specific temporary worker category and may be unable to accept promotions or otherwise change jobs or employers without abandoning their existing efforts — including great investments of time and money — to become permanent residents,” the agency said.
But critics called the new rule, on which the public has 60 days to comment formally, a gross expansion of U.S. immigration law. “Obama has gone the 'Full Monty' to bust the immigration system,” immigration lawyer John Miano told conservative site Breitbart. “What is going on is he is effectively giving green cards to people on H-1B visas who are unable to get green cards due to the [annual] quotas. … It could be over 100,000.”
A legal analysis of the rule conducted by Hunton & Williams LLP in New York found H-1B visa holders would benefit from an unlimited number of three-year extensions on permits until a green card application is either approved or denied.