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Thread: Article: Three Ways President Obama Can Take Executive Action for Business Immigratio

  1. #1

    Article: Three Ways President Obama Can Take Executive Action for Business Immigratio

    Three Ways President Obama Can Take Executive Action for Business Immigration


    (This article was written a few weeks ago but it is applicable today as it was a few weeks ago). 

    Immigration reform was declared dead last week.  Yes, dead.  After years of fighting to reform our archaic and broken immigration system, and a successful Senate bill that passed in June last year, the House put the final nail in the reform coffin.

    A lamenting President Obama stated he will act alone to make any changes possible.  Unfortunately, as much as he wants to change things drastically, he can realistically accomplish limited actions.  Moreover, timing could not be worse to face a terrible humanitarian crisis at our borders. Thousands of children illegally entering the U.S. only exacerbates the immigration problem we already have.

    With all eyes on  the humanitarian crisis and the President, the hope is that he will find a solution for the 11 million undocumented people that want to come out of the shadows and contribute to our economy.

    But what can the President do regarding business immigration specifically?

    Constitutionally, the President’s hands are tied, so his abilities are limited. Here are three examples of things he cannot do:

    1. Increase the number of H-1B visas available.

    2. Create new visa categories – whether for startups, graduates, or low-skilled guest workers.

    3. Eliminate country quotas for visa categories which would then reduce the terrible visa backlog.

    So, what can he do then?

    Thankfully, he has already taken steps to allow H-4 visa holders (dependents of H-1B visa holders) to have employment authorization (EAD).  However, he can do more. Here are three things he can do:

    1. Expand the H-4 EAD policy to all H-4 visa holders (not just to those waiting in the so called ‘line’ for a green card), just like E-2 and L-2 visas holders are allowed.

    Use the existing USCIS Entrepreneur in Residence program to expand favorable policies to founders of companies. For H-1B visas specifically, he can:

    2. Eliminate restrictive policies that require  a startup founder to demonstrate an employer-employee relationship between himself and his company.

    3. Allow company stock valuation and equity to be used to in lieu of cash wages in H-1B visas.

    Time and time again, President Obama has stated he wants to help entrepreneurs come to the U.S., and stay to grow their companies and create jobs.  Here is his chance to take some big steps that will help entrepreneurs get H-1B visas with a little less headache so they can do exactly that. Go Big, Mr. President,-wherever it is possible.

    This post originally appeared on Watson Immigration Law Blog . Reprinted with permission.

    About The Author

    Tahmina Watson

    Tahmina Watson is an immigration attorney and founder of Watson Immigration Law in Seattle Washington. She was a practicing barrister in London, UK, before immigrating to the United States herself. While her practice includes family-based and employment-based immigration, she has a strong focus on immigrant entrepreneurs and start-up companies. She can be contacted at You can visit to learn about Tahmina and her practice.

    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of

  2. #2
    I wholeheartedly agree with your first point regarding H-4 EAD for all dependents of H-1B visa holders. With processing and backlogs measured in years, the continued lack of employment authorization for H-4 spouses puts families seeking to immigrate to the U.S. (pursue permanent residency) in a financial hole while waiting for the H-1B visa holder's priority date to become current and get their green cards. There is also the damage, which can be permanent, to the H-4 spouse's career prospects. (The Administration has been dragging their feet on making the rule change for over 2 years!) For H-4 children, especially those in high school and university, they are barred from part-time and summer jobs while they friends are off working. They cannot even have a paper route or babysit. (At the same time, DACA recipients are granted unfettered employment authorization.)

    In addition to executive actions for business immigration, another 'fix' President Obama could provide to legal aliens is for the USCIS to change its narrowly construed interpretation and implementation of the CSPA and provide retention of priority dates to all children who have aged-out -- which was arguably Congress' intent. While the Administration's current interpretation was not struct down by the Supreme Court, there is considered legal opinion that the USCIS can change its interpretation and policy to one that is logical, more reasonable, and in line with the intent of the CSPA.

    The core question is why are immigration 'fixes' for legal aliens
    who expend considerable effort, time, and money to maintain their status and comply with the laws of the United States taking a back seat to those who are knowingly and unquestionably breaking the law by living in the United States without authorization? The answer sadly is that President Obama is showing he is no different than other politicians -- a large voting block trumps justice, fairness, and the rule of law.
    Last edited by catx; 08-14-2014 at 07:02 AM.

  3. #3
    Tahmina Watson is of course absolutely right in stating that the president cannot unilaterally increase the number of H-1B visas. But there is other action he can take which would relieve the H-1B shortage at least to some extent. I have written about this in my August 14 comment: Can The President Act On His Own to Relieve the H-1B Visa Shortage?

    This would involve the simple expedient of making the 17-month F-1 OPT extension applicable, not just to STEM US university graduates, but to all such graduates, or at least to those who majored in fields associated with a "specialty occupation" for H-1B purposes.

    This would of course cause howls of outrage from the Tea Party, accompanied no doubt by even more anguished cries for Obama's impeachment. But at least one federal court has upheld broad executive branch discretion in all matters relating to F-1 practical training, including its length.

    Obviously, this would not be a complete solution to the H-1B shortage. But it would allow tens of thousands of graduates in whom the United States has invested time, money and resources in educating to use their skills for the benefit of America's economy, not those of our competitors, for almost an additional year and a half. It would also give them at least one additional shot at being picked in the H-1B lottery.

    More details are in my August 14 comment referred to above.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Last edited by ImmigrationLawBlogs; 08-14-2014 at 01:08 PM.

  4. #4
    What about addressing the long drawn out EB related Backlogs- I am one of the victims stuck in this bottleneck and wit goes on forever- all the rhetoric and eye ball in the media is about the Undocumented while the Administration continues to ignore the long suffering Legal Immigrants patiently waiting their turn - When will our issues be addressed ?

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