New Immigration Rule Affects Highly Skilled Workers from Chile and Singapore

A new immigration rule will affect Chile and Singapore H1B1 visas. The H1B1 visa is similar to the H1B visa for nationals of Singapore and Chile. The version for Singapore is called the H1B1-Singapore and the version for Chile is called the H-1B1-Chile. These categories ​​became effective in 2004 and were introduced​with the Singapore-US and Chile-US Trade Agreements.​​

​​Every year, immigration allocates 65,000 visas for the H1B visa program. 6,800 are reserved​​ for the H1B1 program (1,400 for chile and 5,400 for Singapore). Any unused slots in the H-1B1 program in a given fiscal year gets added to the general H-1B quota for the next fiscal year. The worker can apply for a H1B1 visa at the home country consulate (nationals of Singapore can apply for a H1B1 visa only at the Singaporean embassy, and nationals of Chile can apply for a H1B1 visa only at the Chile embassy). The employer needs to have a Labor Condition Application (LCA) approved by the United States Department of Labor in order for the employee to be eligible for the H-1B1 status or visa

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently revised its rules that affect H1B1 visa holders. The new rule removes unnecessary hurdles that place holders of these visas at a disadvantage compared to similarly situated workers in other visa classifications. The final rule will be effective February 16, 2016.

The new rule amends the regulations to include H1B1s in the list of classes of foreign nationals authorized for employment incident to status with a specific employer, and clarifies that an H1B1 is allowed to work without having to separately apply to DHS for employment authorization and will be allowed to file for a change of status. The rules now authorizes the H1B1 to continue to work with the same employer for up to 240 days if the employer has timely filed for an extension of the nonimmigrant’s stay. These changes will harmonize the regulations of these visa category with other similarly situated nonimmigrant classifications.

The final rule will not add any additional costs on employers, workers, or any governmental entity. Amending the regulation will allow American companies to attract foreign highly skilled nonimmigrant and immigrant workers. This will in turn aid American companies to remain competitive in the international market.

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