US Shields High-Skilled Immigrants

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  • Obama Offers Relief To H-1B Visa Holders, Spouses, Students
  • Presenting a powerful moral argument that America is and will always be a nation of immigrants, US President Barack Obama announced that he would exercise his executive prerogative
  • To protect nearly four million undocumented immigrants from deportation while streamlining procedures to retain in the US skilled foreign tech students and workers, many of whom are from China and India.
  • Obama told Americans:Whether our forbears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in and taught them that to be an American
  • The president's executive orders will largely pertain to an estimated 4.1 million undocumented parents of US born children and about 300,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the US illegally as children.
  • He also announced broad procedural changes that will make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to the American economy.
  • According to a factsheet issued by the White House, the president will act to provide portable work authorization for high-skilled workers waiting their Legal Permanent Residency (LPR) (also called green cards), including to their spouses.
  • The factsheet says the department of Homeland Security (DHS) will make changes to allow these workers, usually on H-1B visas, to move or change jobs more easily .
  • DHS, it said, is also finalizing new rules to give certain H-1B spouses employment authorization as long as the H-1B spouse also has an approved LPR application.
  • Tens of thousands of Indian H1-B workers and their spouses are expected to benefit from this.
  • The executive order will also strengthen and extend on the-job training for STEM graduates of US universities in an effort to keep them in the US.
  • In order to strengthen educational experiences of foreign students studying science, technology , engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at US universities, DHS will propose changes to expand and extend the use of the existing Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme
  • It requires stronger ties between OPT students and their colleges and universities following graduation.
  • There are more than 100,000 Indian students in the US, nearly 70% of them in STEM courses.
  • The executive order will also direct DHS to expand immigration options for foreign entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria for creating jobs, attracting investment, and generating revenue in the United States.
  • DHS will clarify its guidance on temporary L-1 visas for foreign workers -used a num, ber of Indian companies who transfer from a company's foreign office to its US office.
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