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Immigration Law Blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

USCIS Publishes Final Rule For Certain Employment-Based Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa Programs

On November 18, 2016, USCIS published a final rule implementing the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act of 2000 (“AC21”) and the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (“ACWIA”) which will go into effect on January 17, 2017. The new rule will modernize and improve several aspects of certain employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visa programs. It will also amend existing regulations in order to make it easier for U.S. employers to hire and retain certain foreign workers who are the beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions and are waiting to become lawful permanent residents.

Although this new rule will largely serve to codify policies that have previously been established through USCIS Policy Memoranda, it will also include several new provisions, including:

  • Establishing a grace period of up to 60 consecutive days during each authorized validity period for certain high-skilled nonimmigrant workers when their employment ends before the end of their authorized validity period, so they may more readily pursue new employment and an extension of their nonimmigrant status without being considered out of legal status during this interim period; and
  • Automatically extending, by 180 days, the employment authorization and validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs or Form I-766s) for certain individuals who timely apply to renew their EADs.

For more information on this final rule, please see https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-publishes-final-rule-certain-employment-based-immigrant-and-nonimmigrant-visa-programs for a summary and/or https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/11/18/2016-27540/retention-of-eb-1-eb-2-and-eb-3-immigrant-workers-and-program-improvements-affecting-high-skilled for the full text of the rule.


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