Proposes Immigration Rules To Help High-Skilled Workers
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[May 07, 2014]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Newly
proposed rules for highly skilled immigrants to the United States,
including a provision to allow their spouses to work, are aimed at
making it easier to keep those talented science, technology and
engineering workers in the country, officials said on Tuesday.
"These individuals are American families in waiting," Commerce
Secretary Penny Pritzker said. "Many tire of waiting for green cards
and leave the country to work for our competition. The fact is we
have to do more to retain and attract world-class talent to the
United States and these regulations put us on a path to do that."
One of the two proposed regulation changes would allow the spouses
of holders of H-1B visas, which are given to workers in fields such
as science, technology and engineering, to have jobs in the United
States while their spouses' green card applications are being
considered. Spouses of U.S. visaholders currently are not given
permission to work.
Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who announced
the new regulations with Pritzker, said that change could affect as
many as 97,000 people in the first year and some 30,000 annually
The other proposed regulation change would give employers a wider
range of methods to document that immigrant researchers and
professors are among the best in their fields. The regulations would
go into effect after a 60-day public comment period.
Pritzker said approximately 28 percent of new businesses in the
United States are started by immigrants and that about 40 percent of
the Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants or their
She cited Hungarian-born Andy Grove, the former Intel Corp chief
executive; Sergey Brin, the Soviet immigrant who co-founded Google;
and Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, who came from Taiwan as a boy, as
immigrants who have made a profound impact on the U.S. economy.
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Pritzker also supported President Barack Obama's push to overhaul
the U.S. immigration system so that it would allow the United States
"to staple a green card to the degrees of graduate students instead
of forcing potential innovators and job creators to leave after
being trained at our universities."
Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama and opponent of
immigration reform, denounced the proposed changes. "Yet again, the
administration is acting unilaterally to change immigration law in a
way that hurts American workers," he said.
"This will help corporations by further flooding a slack labor
market, pulling down wages. It is good news for citizens in other
countries who will be hired. But for struggling Americans, it will
only reduce wages, lower job opportunities, and make it harder to
The U.S. Senate passed a sweeping immigration bill last year, but
the Republican-led House of Representatives has shunned it because
many view it as a grant of amnesty for undocumented immigrants with
potential negative impact on the U.S. economy.
(Reporting by Bill Trott; Editing by Doina Chiacu and G Crosse)
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