MYTH OR REALITY: IS THE DHS TRULY SERIOUS ABOUT VISA MODERNIZATION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY?

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On November 21, 2014, as part of President Obama’s Executive Actions, the President issued a memorandum to modernize and streamline the U.S. immigrant and nonimmigrant visa system for the 21st century. The DHS followed up by publishing a notice in the Federal Register on December 30, 2014 inviting responses to 18 questions relating to visa modernization. We responded in great depth to 2 of the 18 questions as they relate to what we have been advocating for several years to administratively fix the immigration system though big picture and out of the box ideas. Our ideas are also included in the more expansive comments provided by the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, and we salute all of the lawyers who were part of the comment team and who came up with the most innovative suggestions to modernize the visa system. We  hope not without reason that this is not an exercise in futility, and that the DHS will seriously consider our ideas and those of our colleagues, including the weighty comments from the American Immigration Lawyers Association and other stakeholders in the immigration advocacy community. There is no escaping the fact that our visa system designed decades ago to accommodate much less sustanined and far lower levels of migration  urgently needs to be brought into alignment with 21st century needs and challenges. If Congress is unable or unwilling to reform the system, it is incumbent upon the Administration to find ways to reinterpret provisions within the existing INA to ensure that we have an immigration system that can help US employers remain globally competitive and that can attract the best talent to our shores.  It remains to be seen whether all the wonderful ideas in the Supporting US High Skilled Business and Workers memo will ever see the light of the day.  One way for the Administration to demonstrate that it means what it says is to promptly promulgate the rule that would allow H-4 dependent spouses to work. This rule was proposed in May 2014, and it is about time for the rule to be finalized. If the H-4 rule is still pending approval from the powers that be within the governmental bureaucracy, one wonders how much longer would it take for the DHS to lengthen the time period for STEM Optional Practical Training or establish a parole policy to attract entrepreneurs into the US.