Grab Bag of Other Possible Benefits
Among other possible reforms described by the Administration were (i) making it more possible for investors to start businesses in the U.S. that focus on creating jobs and spawning new cutting edge technologies; (ii) finalizing the rule in progress that spouses of H-1B visa holders, who have started green card processing, could, themselves, apply for work authorization; (iii) expanding and extending Optional Practical Training for foreign nationals who have graduated from U.S. university programs; and (iv) developing clearer guidance for employers seeking to bring in foreign nationals with specialized knowledge under the L-1B program.
Exactly what the Administration has in mind on all these fronts is not yet clear, although we have been advised that written guidance bearing on a number of these areas will be coming out in first quarter 2015, but, on the positive side, the issues that are being focused on have posed difficult problems for employers and their foreign national employees, so clarity could only help.
What Should Employers Do Now?
For employers confronting the conundrum of having hired undocumented labor, the creation of a DAPA program could provide an important legalization opportunity. Employers should work with immigration counsel to ascertain what their options may be and how to educate their employees who might qualify for deferred action.
For employers of skilled foreign nationals, the expectation is that many guidelines are going to be issued over the next several months that will help define how the administration wants to address these issues. Employers should create a way for themselves to stay informed concerning this process so that they can participate.
Finally, political trends suggest that the Hispanic community, in particular, could well have a long-term transformative effect on U.S. politics. Even now, the potential role of Hispanic businesses, collectively, to advance immigration reform should not be underestimated both in terms of defending the Administration’s current initiatives, and in spurring Congress on to consider further reform that could benefit the business community.