This GMS Flash Alert reports on a recently-issued USCIS rule that provides guidance on "portability” for green card applicants and H-1B holders, I-140 petition validity, establishment of grace periods for certain non-immigrant categories, and updated rules for Employment Authorization Card applications.
At the end of 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) issued a final rule1 that affects several provisions of The American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (“AC21”)2, which was enacted in October 2000. The Act contained several provisions that brought benefits to U.S. employers and foreign workers alike, which are now affected by the final rule, amongst those “portability” for green card applicants and H-1B holders, I-140 petition validity, establishment of grace periods for certain non-immigrant categories, and updated rules for Employment Authorization Card applications.
The rule’s provisions are due to come into effect on January 17, 2017.
We highlight below the most significant changes introduced by the new rule.
The provisions in the new rule seek to alleviate some of the difficulties faced by foreign nationals while trying to change jobs and progress in their careers, with an existing employer or an altogether new employer. They also introduce more flexibility and opportunities for employers in respect of attracting and hiring foreign nationals.
Generally speaking, the changes aim to foster the appeal of the United States as a destination for skilled and talented individuals.
The new rules seek to alleviate some of the difficulties faced by foreign nationals while trying to change jobs and progress in their careers, with an existing employer or an altogether new employer. The rule also provides additional clarity as to when an I-140 petition has been revoked and when a priority date can be ported. The effect of the new rule is to allow foreign nationals career progression and certainty, thus making the United States a more desirable destination for skilled workers.
The H-1B portability provisions discuss the ability of H-1B beneficiaries to commence employment with a new employer upon filing of a non-frivolous petition. Further, it permits “bridging” – when a beneficiary files multiple successive H-1B port (transfer) petitions. In order to comply with the rule for a second successive port (transfer) while the first port is pending, the I-94 card with the original employer must remain unexpired, the petition must have been timely filed, and the beneficiary must have maintained status throughout.
This should provide more flexibility for U.S. companies to more readily adjust to needs in the market and for skilled beneficiaries to change jobs.
The 10-day grace period could allow workers in those enumerated categories more flexibility to settle in at the commencement of a validity period, as well as wrap up business at the conclusion of a validity period. The 60-day grace period may encourage both employers and workers to capitalize on opportunities.
While the exact process for I-9 verification in these situations is unclear, we anticipate that an I-765 Receipt Notice showing that the application was timely filed and within the same category, along with the original expired EAD card, will be sufficient to verify the employee.
Even despite the current 90-day processing requirement, EAD processing times frequently range between 90 to 120 days, which often cause gaps in work authorization for eligible applicants and can seriously disrupt the business of the U.S. employers that wish to hire them. Please note that work authorization gaps may still occur – especially when an individual is applying for an EAD card for the first time under a particular authorization category. By removing the 90-day processing requirement, delays for processing renewal applications is anticipated. However, the automatic extension of work authorization will definitely help several classes of EAD applicants (H4 and L2 applicants however will not benefit from the new automatic extension provisions). We encourage anyone applying for EAD work authorization – whether as an initial or renewal application – to work closely with your immigration counsel to determine the best strategy to avoid or mitigate disruptions from gaps in work authorization.
The “compelling circumstances” EAD card does expand work authorization for specific individuals who might otherwise fall through the cracks. The four (4) instances of compelling circumstances defined by the rule are as follows: (1) Serious Illness or Disability of the Applicant or Dependent(s); (2) employer retaliation against the non-immigrant worker; (3) other substantial harm to the applicant; and (4) significant disruption to the employer.
1 See the final rule (PDF 712 KB), published in the Federal Register, Vol. 81, No. 223 (November 18, 2016), p. 82398.
2 The Act aimed to create opportunities for businesses and encourage growth by expanding flexibility for non-immigrant workers who had started the employment-based immigration process.
Please note that KPMG LLP (U.S.) does not provide any immigration services. However, KPMG LLP Law in Canada can assist clients with U.S. immigration matters.
The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in Canada.
© 2019 KPMG LLP, a Delaware limited liability partnership and the U.S. member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”) is a Swiss entity.
Member firms of the KPMG network of independent firms are affiliated with KPMG International. KPMG International provides no client services. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm.
Flash Alert is an Global Mobility Services publication of KPMG LLPs Washington National Tax practice. The KPMG logo and name are trademarks of KPMG International. KPMG International is a Swiss cooperative that serves as a coordinating entity for a network of independent member firms. KPMG International provides no audit or other client services. Such services are provided solely by member firms in their respective geographic areas. KPMG International and its member firms are legally distinct and separate entities. They are not and nothing contained herein shall be construed to place these entities in the relationship of parents, subsidiaries, agents, partners, or joint venturers. No member firm has any authority (actual, apparent, implied or otherwise) to obligate or bind KPMG International or any member firm in any manner whatsoever. The information contained in herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.