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Summary of Obama Executive Action on Immigration 2014 – H1B, F1, H4, EAD, Green Card Impact

With so much of discussion among attorneys, bloggers, press, etc. around the Obama executive action on immigration and its impact to internationals, it could be very confusing. The goal of this article is to  summarize the key points as outlined by President Obama on the below topics

  • H4 Visa holders EAD employment Options
  • F1 Visa – OPT Program Changes
  • L1B Visa – Clarification by DHS
  • Employment Based Visa Systems, Visa Bulletin Systems Modernization
  • Moving Jobs Clarification during Green Card Processing
  • Travel options for pending Green Card holders
  • Foreign Entrepreneurs – Startup Visas options

There are many other topics that the President outlined in his executive action, but we will NOT cover such topics around illegal immigrants’ provisions, plans around securing borders, etc.

H4 Visa Holders EAD Employment Options:  Earlier this year, which is 2014, USCIS published H4 EAD interim Rule and it went through the public comment period as well. USCIS mentioned in its memo that DHS and USCIS are about to publish the final rule. This is nothing new, it is just that they re-iterated in the executive action the commitment to have at least certain H4 Visa holders work on EAD.  This could be the first rule to be implemented. Many speculate it could be in the next couple of months…But, there is no timeline as such indicated by USCIS or DHS.

F1 Visa – OPT Program Changes :  The executive action outlines that the current Optional Practical Training (OPT) Program for international students, which allows them to work in their degree field after graduation for 12 months with 17 months extension for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics )  categories, be reviewed and modified.  The goal is to add more degree programs to STEM Category and also consider extending the OPT duration from 12+17 Months to more.  USCIS director has given an action for USCIS to work with Immigrations and Customs Regulations (ICE) and come up with the proposal.

L1B Visa Program – Clarification by DHS:  L1B Visa helps global companies do intra-company transfers to have their executives, managers and someone with “Specialized Knowledge” move to USA from their foreign offices to help business in USA. Currently, the L1B program does not have clear definitions or guidance for approving L1B Petitions around “specialized knowledge”. As per the executive action, USCIS will define and publish a policy memorandum that provides a clear guidance on what “specialized knowledge” means and how the petitions will be adjudicated around that. The goal is to have global companies’ confidence in L1B program, as lately many companies are not applying for L1B visa with heavy rejections and RFEs.

Employment Based Visa Systems, Visa Bulletin Systems Modernization:  There have been long waits for green cards and the current systems do not give correct information, especially Visa Bulletin systems. The directive from USCIS director is to work with Department of State to modernize the visa bulletin systems, provide green cards to the eligible individuals when there is demand for such individuals, review the current policy and make changes as needed to help the approved employment based petitions remain valid, when they change jobs. The goal is to have a predictable visa system and avoid long waits.

Moving Jobs Clarification during Green Card Processing :  With current green card processing, employees who have applied for adjustment of status, but in waiting mode due to lack of Green Card numbers, stick to their old/same jobs with same employers, including avoiding promotions as they believe that it could impact their Green Card processing due to lack of clarity on what ‘Same or Similar Job’ means by USCIS. The USCIS directive is to clarify and publish a memorandum that will clearly define and give guidance on what is a ‘Same or Similar Job’ to help employees change jobs. The goal is to help employees grow in their careers in normal progression with pending green card application.

Travel options for pending Green Card holders  : One of the biggest issues with pending Green Card applications is that many do not want to travel as they may not have valid visa for re-entry. To avoid this, the executive action outlines that DHS provide temporary status permission options like advance permission, which is also called as Advance Parole, for pending Green Card application holders (also called as Lawful Permanent Residents). Currently only certain green card applicants gets parole, the goal is to extend this to others so that all can travel abroad and come back.

Foreign Entrepreneurs – Startup Visas options :  The execution action outlines that national interest waiver be given for outstanding foreign inventors, researchers so that they can help US economy. Under such act, the foreign Entrepreneurs maybe given more options on visas to work in US, if they raise US investor financing or promise of creating more jobs and help US economy grow.

All the above mentioned are steps in the positive direction for many of the foreign students and workers in America working on H1B Visa, who have been waiting for years, especially H4 visa spouses and many others missing families, not taking promotions, etc.   The reality is that all of these do NOT have any deadline or timeline set. It could be almost an year by the time all these get implemented. Many attorneys speculate that the clarity will come in the upcoming months and these could be laws by end of 2015. We just have to wait and see.

What do you think of the immigration executive action by president Obama ?

Did I miss anything related our context ?  Your thoughts ?

Official References:


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  1. Forget everything I am on EB3 since last 7 years, first withdraw by my south indian employer, re applied and got new date in November year 2012 EB3. when I will get EAD. my wife already got H4 EAD but no use because of kids are under 10years old all.

  2. Good afternoon. I have an I-140 approved since 2008 and I am able to apply for the I485 since June-1-2013. The problem is that this I-140 is from my other employer in VA, which position I resigned in 2010 after they offered me a part time only. If I apply now for a green card using that I140, what would happened if the changes in the H1b are not started by the end of the year? A lawyer told me to start the process now and after 180 days keeping my job, which I’ve had since 2010, that the time runs in my favour. Thanks for your response.

  3. Hello Kumar,
    I am doing Mechanical Engineering 6th sem. I am going to Germany in Sept 2015 for a month on Student Exchange Program. I am going to give GRE in March 2015. If i perform good around 295-305, which i am sure, will i get visas? If i get i leave in August 2016. After 2 years of Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and getting a job, will i be eligible for Green Card? Can i immigrate there permanently?

  4. Hi,
    I wanted to know if Obama Executive Action on Immigration 2014 has had any impact on the H1B lottery that will happen this year and onwards. Is it going to get any easier?
    I had H1B applied last year, but could not get through the lottery process 🙁 hence the curiosity.

  5. Hi Kumar,
    Whitehouse fact-sheet on executive order says those who have h1b with approved LPR application then their spouse(H4) can get EAD. By going with the line of thinking then it talkes about i140 approved application only. Again it says “Under the current system, employees with approved LPR applications often wait many years for their visa to become available. DHS will make regulatory changes to allow these workers to move or change jobs more easily. ”
    Now question is if we call approved LPR application then it mean i140 right? But USCIS immigration on executive action talks about adjustment delays so as your article.. I am not sure why USCIS has twisted the factsheet from white house. The question in every one’s mind is having i140 for 10 years and still you cant file i485. This period where US govt should focus as it will impact tax revenue. If a person holds i140 for 10 years then for those 10 years he might work in different layers and what he earns will be less but his billing might be high. So its issue to client as well as he will pay less tax to government. Person who bills hefty will hold the investment into buying homes ,startups, etc. This is going to be the huge impact on US economy. There should be some cognizance on employees who hold i140 for years and years

    Check the below URL’s one is fact sheet while other gives insight on the benefits to Asian american due to executive action (published on 12/16/2014). Both factsheets from whitehouse is different from what USCIS has published.

    Few URL’s:


  6. Hi,

    I am planning to apply “2016 H-1B Cap”. Can i submit LCA now? last year LCA delayed and i didn’t submitted the H1B Application.


  7. Hi,

    I have H1B visa stamped in Nov 2014.
    I have not yet travelled for the first time to US.
    If I change my employer and the new employer sends me to US will my old visa be valid or would I need to change some details in documents or would I have to apply for a new visa and go through the lottery system again.
    Please share some insight.

      • Absolutely correct. if you want to enjoy snow or cold weather go himalaya ranges but do not enter in USA on H category visa. it’s hell, and also now a days salary is similar here and there. I am planing to returning soon once kids finished high schools.

  8. Thanks for responding to my comment kumar.
    Kumar can you tell me conversion method or factor to convert Indian CGPA to GPA which is accepted in US universities ?

  9. Hello Kumar

    Firstly thanks for writing such great and helpful articles. Surely your website is first option to workout any query regarding US education and visa. It will be great if you can help me out
    All your article are mostly based on IT sector situation can you please write an article regarding construction sector which mainly include employment situation, H1B visa sponsors in this field, present market and best state in terms of education and employment for a civil engineer etc or can u refer me any good website which can help me out.
    It will be a great help beside I request you to please write an article on this.Waiting for you knowledgeable response.

    Thank you

    • Nitesh, Thanks for the nice words. All the basic principles of job search, career and sponsors apply to Civil engineering. One thing you could do is to search at our H1B Sponsors Database for some of the global civil engineering companies and then look at their jobs and what kind of salaries they pay and how many were sponsored. We plan to add search by Job Description that will help you search by job name. Let me see, if I can put together for your request.

  10. I have heard from a source (not sure how reliable) that the plan is to extent OPT to 36 months (from 29 months max). If this is true, then not sure of it is useful; 7 months of extra time may not help much.


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