President Obama intends to reform the immigration system through executive action

News Release from Jewell & Associates, PC

Yesterday the President announced his intent to reform the immigration system through executive action in ten key areas. Planned action that will be of particular interest to the business community include:

Support to High-Skilled Workers and Business

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will take action to better enable U.S. businesses to hire and retain highly skilled foreign-born workers and expand opportunities for students to gain on-the-job training. The full memo can be found here. Planned actions include:

  1. Modernizing the employment-based immigrant visa system, including working with the State Department to ensure that available immigrant visas are issued, and to improve the system for determining when visas are available; and considering the amendment of regulations to ensure that long-standing visa petitions remain valid in certain cases where a beneficiary changes jobs or employers.
  2. Reforming Optional Practical Training for foreign students and graduates from U.S. universities.
  3. Promoting research and development, including increased use of the National Interest Waiver, and a potential program permitting DHS to grant parole status to inventors, researchers, and start-up founders who do not yet qualify for NIW.
  4. Bringing greater consistency to the L-1B visa program.
  5. Increasing worker portability.

Modernization of the PERM Program

The Department of Labor (DOL) has not examined or modified the permanent labor certification program since its inception in 2005. In response to ongoing feedback, including that the regulatory requirements governing PERM recruitment do not align with worker or industry practices, DOL will undertake a review of the program and regulations. The full memo can be found here. DOL will seek input on:

  1. How to identify labor force occupational shortages and surpluses, and how to align domestic worker recruitment requirements with those.
  2. Modernizing U.S. worker recruitment requirements.
  3. Clarifying employer obligations to ensure PERM positions are open to U.S. workers.
  4. Ranges of case processing timeframes and possibilities for premium processing.
  5. Application submission and review process and feasibility for efficiently addressing nonmaterial errors.

Other planned executive actions include strengthening border security; replacing Secure Communities; expanding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; and extending deferred action to parents of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents.

Note that the immigration agencies are NOT accepting applications under these newly announced programs and initiatives at this time. For resources on how to protect yourself from immigration scams and fraud visit

Jewell & Associates, PC will provide further coverage of the details, as they become available, in future posts.

By Christopher Beckerson and Claire Pratt. © Jewell & Associates, PC 2014