by Chris Musillo

Starting February 16, 2016, the USCIS will make life much easier for H-1B1, CW-1 and E-3 visa status holders thanks to a new regulation that has just been posted to the Federal Register. The original proposed regulation was published in April 2015.

The new regulation will grant extended work authorization to these visa status holders who timely file their visa status extension petitions. These changes will bring these three categories into harmony with similar employment-based visa status programs, such as the H-1B and the L-1.

Allowing dual intent will remove an unnecessary legal headache when these visa status holders apply for permanent residency. Currently, H-1B1, CW-1 and E-3 visa status holders must be extremely careful when preparing their green card petitions or risk running afoul of the immigrant intent rule. Strictly speaking, these visa status holders cannot intend to file for US Permanent Residency.

Granting extended work authorization is also a welcome for these visa status holders. Under the current interpretation these workers were forced to stop working unless their visa status extension was approved prior to the expiration of the initial visa status. When the new rule is effective, those in H-1B1, CW-1, and E-3 visa status will be allowed to work during the pendency of their visa status extension petition, even if the extension petition is not approved before the expiration of the prior status. This work authorization is for 240 days, per 8 CFR 274a.12(b)(20).

These visa categories were all established in the mid-2000s. The H-1B1 provides an H-1B-like visa status for Singaporean and Chilean nationals. The E-3 functions similarly for Australian nationals. These visas were approved by Congress when trade deals were struck with these three countries. The advantage of these visas is that they are not subject to the H-1B cap. There are quotas for these categories, although none of the quotas have veer been reached.

Please read the Musillo Unkenholt Healthcare and Immigration Law Blog at and You can also visit us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.