A Positive Step for the H-1B family
In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, the Obama Administration has taken another step in the right direction in removing obstacles for skilled workers and entrepreneurs moving to and remaining in the United States. On May 6th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the publication of a proposed rule extending employment authorization to spouses of certain H-1B workers. To be eligible, the principal H-1B worker must have an approved I-140 petition (second step of the green card process) or have been granted an extension of his/her authorized period of stay in the United States under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21) on the basis of an alien labor certification (PERM application) that has been pending for more than 365 days. In so doing, the Administration is acknowledging the intolerable wait for nationals of certain countries to obtain permanent residence under the existing outdated quotas, and attempting to ameliorate the economic hardship of the H-1B family by allowing a spouse to work. This is certainly a sound – albeit long-awaited-- move, while we hope for the breaking of the gridlock in our Congress in its general inability to bring about the sorely needed overall fix to our broken immigration system.