NETWORK commends the White House’s future administrative initiatives shared by the Department of Homeland Security on January 31, 2012. Last week, the president’s State of the Union Address highlighted the need for job creation via entrepreneurial and small businesses. On the heels of this speech, the administration has punctuated the need to invite and retain immigrants who spur job creation and boost competitiveness here in the U.S. In its announcement, the DHS reports that they plan to implement regulatory reforms that include
“creating a 'Startup Visa,' strengthening the H-1B program, and 'stapling' green cards to the diplomas of certain foreign-born graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.” Click here  for more information.
Specifically, the following proposals were announced by the Department of Homeland Security. They are listed and further explained at the above website. Basically, the proposals would:
- Ease qualifications for the 17-month extension of optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 international students. The extension would allow for students with a prior degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), not just the most recent degree.
- Allow more subjects and kinds of study for spouses of F-1 students.
- Provide work authorization for spouses of certain H-1B holders who have begun the process of attaining legal permanent residence.
- Expand the narrowly defined evidence requirement for the exceptional professors and researchers category of visa. It would more accurately reflect the kind of evidence that is mandated in other ‘exceptional ability’ immigrant visa categories.
- Just like H-1B and L-1 employment based visa holders, allow E-3 visa holders from Australia and H-1B1 visa holders from Singapore and Chile to continue working with their current employer for up to 240 days while their petitions for extension of status are pending.
- Launch Entrepreneurs in Residence initiative that will focus on ensuring that immigration pathways for foreign entrepreneurs are clear, consistent and reflect today's business realities. On February 22, 2012, USCIS will host an Information Summit in Silicon Valley, CA. The ideas formulated at the summit will be shared with the Entrepreneurs in Residence tactical team. Business experts will be called upon to work alongside USCIS staff for a period of approximately 90 days. To learn more about the summit, click here .
The palpable sense of justice advanced in these reforms highlights the value of immigrants in this country and the need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.