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One Year after President Obama’s Start-Up America Initiative

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One Year after President Obama’s Start-Up America Initiative

February 2, 2012

The White House recently announced minor immigration administrative reforms on the one year anniversary of Start Up America.  We aren’t impressed yet.  Start Up America was supposed to encourage innovation.  The government has acknowledged that highly skilled immigrants create jobs.  WSM attorneys will be attending the government’s Entrepreneurs in Residence Summit in Silicon Valley in late February in connection with the USCIS’ Entrepreneurs in Residence Initiative.   We hope to see some  “there, there” -- we need a lot more than increased work authorization for F-1 STEM students and spouses of H-1B visa holders who are in the permanent residence process to achieve the innovation our economy depends on to thrive. Proposed reforms include:

• STEM Expansion of 17 month extension Optional Practical Training (OPT) to include past degrees.  Students who have a prior degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) could now benefit if they work for an EVerify employer.  

• Work authorization for H-4 dependent spouses.  Eligibility is dependent upon the H-1B spouse have started the employment-based permanent resident process, and that H1-B spouse has completed a  minimum period of H-1B status in the United States, which time period has not yet been delineated. 

• Expansion to allow “Comparable Evidence” to prove eligibility under the EB-1 Outstanding Professor/Researcher immigrant category. The government would allow "comparable evidence" as is currently permitted for petitions filed under the EB-1 Extraordinary Ability immigrant category.

• Extension of 240 day Work Authorization to Chileans, Singaporeans and Australians while timely filed H-1B/E-3 extensions are pending.   Currently, these nationals are not eligible for work authorization while their H-1B petitions (for Chileans and Singaporeans) and E-3 petitions (Australians) are pending.

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