While the centerpiece of President Obama’s courageous executive order is the provisions which grant employment authorization and provide protection from deportation for an estimated 4 million immigrants, important business-related immigration procedures were also part of this action.
In a carefully thought out plan to provide limited relief to alleviate the unrealistic caps placed upon temporary and permanent work visas for professionals, a number of measures were made part of the President’s initiative. Also included were measures to facilitate entry in the U.S. for foreign entrepreneurs, inventors, and researchers. These provisions, once implemented, will help alleviate some of the problems produced by our broken immigration system.
The only provision that has a projected timeline is the plan to give employment authorization to certain spouses of long time H-1B visa holders. There had already been a proposed regulation issued last May.
Some of the other measures will require the promulgation of regulations while others require a change in policy created by U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Enthusiasm for these new measures must be tempered due to the history of promised policy guidelines which often take eons of time to issue or have never materialized. The challenge for the business community and all stakeholders is to make sure that these measures are initiated, drafted, and implemented in a timely fashion. The November 20, 2014 memorandum from DHS Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson to USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez, which outlines in greater detail the provisions announced by President Obama, expressed the expectation that the proposals contained in the memorandum would be “published in a timely manner.”
While regulations which have a limited impact can be issued as interim rules and take effect immediately, most regulations require the publication of a proposed rule with a 30 to 60-day comment period. Afterwards, the government agency must cull though public comments and decide if revisions to the proposed regulation are in order. Of particular note is the Department of Labor’s announcement that it will modernize the PERM regulations.
The business provisions included in the President’s executive actions can have a substantial economic benefit for our country but they have to be implemented expeditiously to make a difference. It is my hope that there will be an institutional change recognizing the need to move forward with these provisions immediately.
Written by Deb Notkin, AILA Media Advocacy Committee Member