14 Changes Obama Can Make to "Fix" The Broken Immigration System Now.

A group of immigration attorneys and others interested in immigration have been brainstorming about what President Obama could do to "fix" some of the problems in our broken immigration system. These are some of the smartest, most forward thinking individuals I know in the area of immigration law. Their ideas are specific, detailed, and easy to implement These ideas involve mostly policy change, not a lengthy regulatory fix.  

The nightmare scenario for many immigrants dealing with our current immigration system is not always caused by the laws enacted by Congress (some are),  Rather, these are problems either created by current administration policy, or by policies adopted by prior administrations. The President can change no laws. But, he can change regulations and policies.  And, while our laws are indeed "broken" in many ways, the regulations and policies themselves are the source of many of the issues current plaguing our legal immigration system, and straining our resources as we combat undocumented immigration and deal with a non-functioning legal immigration system.

President Obama can do a LOT to change, modify, and update these regulations and policies. My good friends Cyrus Mehta and Gary Endelman have published a blog talking about two of these fixes, Parole in Place and the counting of immigrant visa numbers. I commend you to read their brilliant narrative.  CNN even got in the act, publishing an article about five things Obama could do through policy and regulatory change.

But, let's not limit Obama to only two or five changes. There are at least 14 things Obama could do that would resolve a lot of immigration challenges, ranging from business immigration visas, deportation backlogs and family immigration, and priority for removal of undocumented immigrants.  The saying is "go big, or go home."  So, what will Obama do?  To day he has shown a proclivity for two dimensional thinking (shout out to you Wrath of Khan fans out there). 

Can he be convinced to be bold?  I am not holding out hope.  But, so that you know.  If there are things on this following list that he does not do, it is not because he does not have the authority. It is because he is not really sincere about fixing the broken immigration system.  

Fixes for those who are eligible for a visa, but for being subject to the bars upon departure
  • “Parole-in-Place” for immediate relatives of USC who are beneficiaries of approved visa petitions.  There is precedent for this remedy as the administration already uses parole-in-place for Cuban entrants and family members of former and current US military personnel.  Section 212(d)(5) of the INA provides the Attorney General (now DHS), the authority to parole into the U.S. temporarily under such conditions as he may prescribe on a case-by case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit any alien applying for admission to the U.S.  Section 235(a)(1) of the INA sets out that aliens present in the U.S. who have not been admitted are treated as applicants for admission to the U.S.  Thus, these aliens can lawfully be paroled.
  • The administration can deem extreme hardship as in special rule cancellation (there is historical precedent for this in special rule cancellation for NACARA). In order to be eligible for a waiver of the unlawful presence bars under § 212(a)(9) of the INA, a foreign national subject to those bars must demonstrate that a qualifying relative will suffer extreme hardship if he/she is not allowed to return to the U.S. This same requirement existed under the former § 244(a) of the INA (suspension of deportation).  In order to facilitate the adjudication of suspension applications in the past under NACARA, the administration, at the time, deemed the existence of extreme hardship for those with qualifying relatives. See Limited Presumption of Extreme Hardship under Section 203 of NACARA, HQCOU 90/16.11-C, Feb. 12, 1999, by Paul Virtue. There are times that the administration has elevated the hardship requirement for a waiver. For example, though the statute requires a foreign national to demonstrate extreme hardship when applying for a waiver under § 212(h) of the INA when convicted of certain criminal acts, the administration elevated the requirement to exceptional and extremely unusual hardship for those convicted of violent or dangerous crimes. Under 8 C.F.R. § 1212.7(d), the Attorney General will not favorably exercise discretion in cases involving violent or dangerous crimes, except in extraordinary circumstances, such as those involving national security or foreign policy considerations, or cases in which the alien clearly demonstrates that a denial of the waiver would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship. Moreover, depending on the gravity of the alien’s underlying criminal offense, a showing of extraordinary circumstances might still be insufficient to warrant a favorable exercise of discretion under INA § 212(h). 8 C.F.R. § 1212.7(d). Matter of Jean, 23 I&N Dec. 373, 383 (BIA 2002).
  •  The administration can enable those granted TPS to adjust status to lawful residence if otherwise qualified through an approved visa petition.  See Flores v. USCIS, 718 F.3d 548 (6th Cir. 2013). Currently, but for those living within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, the administration will not allow a foreign national granted TPS to adjust status, finding that TPS is not a lawful status from which one can adjust status. The 6th Circuit, in sound reasoning, found that TPS is a lawful status from which foreign nationals can adjust status. This decision should be adopted nationally.
  • The administration can expand the 601A waiver process stateside to all foreign nationals who are the beneficiaries of approved visa petitions. This administration currently allows beneficiaries of approved immediate relative petitions, who require unlawful presence waivers, to apply for those waivers while physically present in the U.S.  Foreign nationals who are not the beneficiaries of immediate relative petitions, but who nonetheless qualify for residence and who are eligible for waivers have to apply for waivers after being denied visas abroad. These waivers take many months to adjudicate. Fearful of not being granted the waivers, these foreign nationals do not proceed abroad, even though many of these waivers would be favorably adjudicated. By moving the entire process stateside, many more foreign nationals would pursue the currently available immigrant visa process. 
  • The administration could also include the ability to process waivers of deportation (I-212), or other waivers, along with unlawful presence waivers while the applicants are in the US.  As many aliens subject the unlawful presence bar also require deportation waivers or other waivers, they are not eligible to take advantage of the I-601A waiver process, which has effectively rendered the existing policy useless for a large segment of the immigrant population.
  • The administration can relax interpretations of those deemed unlawfully present under § 212(a)(9) of the INA.  The administration has never enacted any regulations on unlawful presence. A foreign national who is in a period of stay authorized by the Attorney General is not unlawfully present. The administration has latitude in determining what foreign nationals are present in a period of stay authorized by the Attorney General.   Moreover, section 212(a)(9)(B)(iii) of the INA provides exceptions for period for unlawful presence, i.e., for minors, those that have filed for asylum etc.  Section 212(a)(9)(B)(iv) provides for tolling of unlawful presence. These exceptions and tolling have only been applied to the 10 year bar to admissibility. The administration can apply these to all periods of unlawful presence, including the permanent bar to admission under § 212(a)(9)(c).
  • Section 245(i) of the INA provides that certain foreign nationals and their spouses and children who commenced the residence process on or before April 30, 2001 and were physically present on December 20, 2000 can seek residence in the U.S. upon payment of a fine of $1000, if otherwise eligible for residence.  At one time, the administration interpreted the relatives covered by section 245(i) broadly (i.e. as covering after-acquired spouses). More recently, the Board of Immigration Appeals found that after -acquired spouses of beneficiaries covered by §245(i) would not benefit from this provisions. This is a reversal in policy.  National Cable & Telecommunications Association et al. v. Brand X Internet Services et al., 545 U.S. 967 (2005), allows the administration to rethink prior interpretations of law. The administration should use the Brand X decision to broaden its interpretation of 245(i).
  • The administration can use greater prosecutorial discretion (stop trying to deport immediate relatives). The administration should formalize a policy of not putting certain foreign nationals in removal proceedings and target border enforcement.
  • No child under 16 should be charged with entry without inspection (“EWI”) because EWI requires the actual evasion of inspection coupled with the intent to evade inspection (the intent to evade inspection requires a level of sophistication that most children do not have- this is clearly legally provided for) Matter of Pierre, I.D. 2238 (BIA 1973).

Lower the cost of detention without compromising security
  •      The administration spends tens of millions or more each year to detain foreign nationals. Foreign nationals convicted of certain criminal offenses, including lawful permanent residents convicted of possession with intent to distribute a small amount of marijuana, are subject to mandatory custody. See § 236(c) of the INA. This is true even though the foreign national may pose no security or flight risk and may not have served any time in criminal custody. The administration can save millions of dollars by finding that electronic surveillance satisfies the statutory requirement of mandatory custody. This will require no change in the law and assure that the foreign national will be present at future immigration hearings.
Administrative Fixes for lack of family and employment immigrant visas

  •        There is no legal support in the Immigration Act for charging worldwide visa quotas against all immigrating family members, as opposed to the legally support use of  one (1) visa as per family unit.  This would essentially solve most family and employment quota backlogs.
Allow U.S. companies to attract global talent and compete with E and L companies and deal with severe H-1B shortage

  •        The administration can grant employment authorization for spouses of foreign nationals allowed to work in the U.S. on H1B, TN, E3 and H1B1, O and P visas. This will lessen the demand on the H1B professional visa.  The demand is so great for the H-1B professional visa that the visas are exhausted the first day they are available. In fact, this year, a foreign national applicant for an H-1B visa, with a U.S. bachelor’s degree, had about a 43% chance of getting selected for the H-1B. The administration has already granted work permission to spouses of L and E visa holders. It is a logical extension for the administration to extend work permission to spouses of other visas.
  •        The administration can grant longer periods of optional practical training for students. The administration already extended the practical training granted to STEM majors in U.S. universities from 12 months to 29 months, as long as the STEM’s employer participates in E-verify. Why not extend this to all foreign graduates of U.S. universities? This would help alleviate the H-1B crisis and encourage more employers to use E-verify.
  •        The administration can go back to less restrictive interpretations on those not subject to H-1B quotas, i.e., those employed at institutions affiliated with qualified institutions of higher education or non-profit research institutions are exempt from the H-1B cap.  Prior administrations more liberally interpreted exemptions from the H-1B cap allowing institutions that had any type of affiliation with a qualifying organization to qualify for the exemption. This administration has interpreted the H-1B exemption more stringently; i.e., public schools that served as training grounds for student teachers having affiliation agreements with qualifying universities used to be able to claim H-1B cap exemption and now cannot. With the H-1B demand so high, and the cap so low, why not interpret these exemptions broadly?
Use the Brand X decision to overturn Judicial decisions that do not support the administration’s goals  National Cable & Telecommunications Association et al. v. Brand X Internet Services et al., 545 U.S. 967 (2005).  

  •  The Brand X decision allows the administration to rethink its interpretation of prior statutory provisions. In some recent cases, Courts actually encouraged the administration to re-think interpretations of the law. See recent Supreme Court decision in Scialabba v. Vuellar de Osario.


How To Apply For DACA Renewals

           On June 5, 2014 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the process for individuals to renew enrollment in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has submitted an updated form allowing individuals previously enrolled in DACA, to renew their deferred action for a period of two years. USCIS will also continue to accept initial applications for DACA from individuals who have not previously applied. 


            Individuals may request DACA renewal if they continue to meet the initial criteria and the additional guidelines below:


INITIAL CRITERIA


1.     Arrived in the United States prior to age 16 and before June 15, 2007;


2.     Remained in the United States since June 15, 2007 and were present on June 15, 2012 when the program was announced;


3.     Under 31 years of age on June 15, 2012;


4.     Must be enrolled in school, have graduated from high school, or have a GED; and


5.     Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.


ADDITIONAL CRITERIA


1.      You did not depart the United States on or after Aug. 15, 2012, without advance parole;


2.      You  have continuously resided in the United States since they submitted their most recent DACA request that was approved; and


3.      You Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.


            Those DACA beneficiaries who were approved based upon being  enrolled in GED programs when they initially applied will need to demonstrate continued enrollment if they have not yet been awarded a GED. Applicants for renewal who did not continue their GED programs after receiving employment authorization will be subject to additional scrutiny and may be unable to renew their deferred action.


            With the first DACA approvals expiring in September 2014, eligible individuals should apply immediately to avoid any lapse in their employment authorization. We  strongly encourage DACA beneficiaries to submit their renewal requests 120 days (four months) before their current period of deferred action expires. To avoid a lapse in employment eligibility and to continue their protection rom removal. 


            Individuals can renew their grant of deferred action by filing the new version of Form I-821D “Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” Form I-765 “Application for Employment Authorization,” and the I-765 Worksheet.  The old firm can no longer be used and will not be accepted by USCIS. The filing fee of $465.00 will be the same as for initial applications. As with the initial request, USCIS will conduct a background check when processing DACA renewals.


         Contact the attorneys at Kuck Immigration Partners today to being your timely renewal process.  You can reach is at 404-816-8611 or at ckuck@immigration.net. Much of the renewal process can be done without an in person visit by most people. We look forward to continuing to serve you.    

Why A Corporate Immigration Policy is Important for Every Employer

Corporate Immigration Policies: A Survey

Immigration is a key component of many companies forward-looking strategy for workplace competitiveness. American employers who currently hired foreign national workers, and those who plan to do so in the future, need to have a formal corporate immigration policy to ensure that they are competitive in the marketplace and can attract and hold top foreign talent.

A US employer can legally hire foreign nationals under a variety of visa categories, but each visa category has one commonality--many of these foreign national employees want to remain permanently in the United States.  Just as important, given training and lost opportunity costs associated with departing "star" employees, most companies want to keep the foreign talent they have already sponsored for a work visa. 

Give the lengthy waiting period for so many immigrant visa categories, many employees want to start as soon as possible on their "green card" process.  At the same time, before a company spends a considerable amount of money on that same process they want to be sure that the employee is one worth keeping!  These competing interests are the primary reason why having a corporate immigration policy is necessary.  This policy puts every potential employee (and their managers and recruiters) on notice of what it will take to be "sponsored" and how long an employee needs to be employed before that process starts.  

In order to be competitive in their industry, many companies want to know the immigration policies of their competitors and their industry.  The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Kuck Immigration Partners is a member, conducted a survey of our members' experience with corporate immigration policies to try to provide a better outlook of where corporate immigration policies lay in 2014.  

The survey requested information from ABIL member firms regarding their corporate clients’ policies on such topics as: (1) how long a foreign national employee would have to work for the company before sponsorship would be started; (2) whether that timing has changed since the height of the financial crisis; and (3) whether there are contingencies on initiating/continuing the green card sponsorship process.

Here is a summary of our Corporate Immigration Policy Survey:
  • The majority of ABIL members that responded to the survey (66%) reported that their client companies wait one year before starting the green card process.  The next highest percentage responded that their clients wait more than 1 year; the third highest reported a wait of six months.
  • When asked whether this time frame changed since the height of the financial crisis, an equal percentage of respondents reported that the wait time had shortened, as those responding that there was no change to the wait time.
  • When asked about contingencies on starting (or continuing) the process, over 80% of respondents stated that the employee’s manager must “sign off” to have the process initiated.  One-half of respondents stated that an employee on a performance plan or under some other “disciplinary action” would cause the process to be delayed of stopped.
  • One member reported that some client companies have “nomination periods” when managers can nominate certain employees deserving of green card sponsorship.
  • When asked about the payment of green card sponsorship, most members (over 80%) reported that the employer pays all fees and expenses in connection with sponsorship.  The next highest percentage reported that the employer pays all fees for the employee,  but requires the FN employee to pay costs related to family members.  The smallest percentage reported a policy whereby the employer would pay up to a certain amount towards the process and the employee would cover the balance. 
  • When asked about the source of immigration-related costs, the largest percentage (over 90%) reported that the business unit hiring the employee pays for the process.  A few respondents reported situations where the Legal or HR Department would pay.
  • Responses were varied when asked about reimbursement policy.  An equal number of ABIL members reported that their corporate clients had no reimbursement policy as those who reported that their clients had such a policy (where the employee agrees to repay a portion of the costs of sponsorship if the employee leaves the company within a certain time frame after receiving the green card).
A company must also need to take into account that federal regulations make the employer responsible for all fees and costs associated with the PERM labor certification process - the first step in the majority of employment-based green card cases – and such fees may not be reimbursed by the employee, ever.  

We strongly suggest that our employer clients create a corporate immigration policy to ensure consistency across the company in sponsoring employees, and, especially given the metrics captured by USCIS during the immigration process, to ensure that the company is providing consistent information to USCIS and the DOL as it sponsors employees.  An upfront corporate policy will also diminish the threat of key employees resigning to take up employment with more foreign national "friendly” employers.  

If you are considering creating and adopting a corporate immigration policy, call the experts at Kuck Immigration Partners for assistance, suggestions and review to ensure that the policy meets all legal standards, and more importantly, in good for business.  

New Rules for Spouses of H-1B Workers

This morning the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced newly proposed rules that will allow the spouses of highly skilled workers to work in the United States.  This came as welcome news to many eagerly awaiting Obama’s promise of comprehensive immigration reform, which seems to have stalled in Congress. Proposed changes in the regulations aim to attract and retain highly skilled immigrants to the United States, and, as Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker stated, to “unleash more of the extraordinary contributions that immigrants have always made to America’s innovation economy.”  

Presently, spouses of these highly skilled workers are able to enter the U.S. to join their spouses but are not permitted to work.  DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated that the proposed change will help keep America strong, enhancing our country’s competitiveness and supporting economic growth by attracting highly trained workers in science, technology and engineering from other countries but stressed that Congress needed to work on a broader immigration solution to address serious deficiencies in the system. 

Critics to the proposed rule change claim it will only harm the millions of jobless Americans. They claim the proposals are an overreach by President Obama, and some assess the proposal as a move taken just to appease the Tech industry.


The proposals will soon be subject to a 60-day period of public comment that could lead to modifications, but DHS officials hope to issue final regulations before the end of 2014.  Proposals such as the one announced today are too small a step for supporters of comprehensive immigration reform, and for those opposed, they are one small step in the wrong direction.

ICE ERO To No Longer Require Detainees’ Signatures on G-28s

The American Immigration Lawyers Association announced yesterday that ICE will no longer require a detained foreign national’s signature on Form G-28s, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative. This is a welcome announcement as some local offices were refusing to speak to a detained individual’s attorney under the excuse that the detained individual had not signed a Form G-28. 

Detained foreign nationals are routinely moved during their first few days of detention with no notice to their families. For example, in Georgia, detained foreign nationals are commonly moved between two rural locations (Lumpkin, Georgia, and Irwin, Georgia). This constant movement, combined with the rural locations and lack of notice, made it effectively impossible to obtain a signed G-28 in the first few days of a foreign national’s detention. Thus, detained foreign nationals were denied the benefit of an attorney and their families were unable to obtain legal updates on the case for several days.

Bieber Update – Back By Popular Demand

Justin Bieber can finally stop holding his breath.  The White House has finally responded to the “Deport Justin Bieber and Revoke His Green Card” petition.  As I’m sure you all remember from my previous post, “angry” citizens had petitioned the White House to have Bieber deported following his arrest in Miami on DUI and resisting arrest charges.  As I pointed out in that post, the petition was misguided in that Bieber is in the United States on an O visa, not as a green card holder.  I also boldly predicted the White House would pass the buck saying they don’t comment on specific cases.  I don’t get tired of saying, “I was right.”
Though the White House statement was a typical non-answer, it was at least amusing, which is not typical of the White House.  After saying that they were “sorry to disappoint, but [they] won’t be commenting on this one,” referring to the petition, the White House used the opportunity to push for immigration reform.  This is where the White House got witty.  In support of the call for immigration reform, the post points out that reform will “grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next 20 years.  For those of you counting at home, that’s 12.5 billion concert tickets – or 100 billion copies of Mr. Bieber’s debut album.” The White House, I’m guessing for the first time in history, then quoted Bieber lyrics in calling on Republicans to schedule a vote on reform saying “never say never – House Republicans could do this tomorrow.” 
So to recap: I was right, the White House made essentially no comment on Bieber’s case; the Obama Administration is witty or at least amusing, if not cheesy; and the White House call for reform continues. 

Just When You Thought Your Old Conviction After a Jury Trial Would Leave You with a Permanent Inability to Seek Relief in Removal Proceedings, Think Again!

On February 28, 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals issued a precedent decision opening new avenues of relief for many individuals with old criminal convictions they otherwise
thought would forever prevent them from seeking relief before an Immigration Judge.  See
Matter of Ezzat H. Abdelghany, 26 I&N Dec. 254 (BIA 2014).  This BIA Decision held that "[a] lawful permanent resident who is otherwise eligible for relief under former section
212(c) of the Act may apply for such relief in removal or deportation proceedings
without regard to whether the relevant conviction resulted from a plea agreement or a
trial and without regard to whether he or she was removable or deportable under the
law in effect when the conviction was entered".  Id.
Until this Decision was issued, those who were found guilty of a crime after a jury trial entered before April 24, 1996, were not eligible to apply for discretionary relief under former section 212(c) of the Act.  Former 212(c) relief is a section of the law that has since been repealed, but remains available to those in removal proceedings with a conviction that pre-dates April 24, 1996.  Now, even those who requested a jury trial and were then found guilty can apply for this relief in removal proceedings.  This new case not only assists those who are currently in removal proceedings, but also those who currently have an order of removal. 
If this applies to you, you need to speak with an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options, whether you're currently in removal proceedings or you have already lost your green card as a result of an order of removal.  Please contact me directly at 404.949.8151
to schedule an appointment. 

Yasiel Puig’s Exceptional Yet Typical Immigrant Story

A story recently came out about Los Angeles Dodger star Yasiel Puig, detailing his defection from Cuba and immigration to the United States.  The account details how Puig escaped Cuba with the help of Los Zetas, one of the most well-known narco-trafficking organized crime groups in the world, how he was held captive in a shady hotel in Mexico and threatened with dismemberment by machete by the Zetas while the group negotiated a ransom with a corrupt businessman in the U.S.  The U.S. businessman purportedly arranged Puig’s defection with the help of the Zetas in exchange for twenty percent of all of Puig’s future earnings.
A couple of things about the story stood out to me.  First, the story of Puig is not news in the sense that this is typical of many people who immigrate to the U.S. from different countries every year.  Nearly everyone who tries to immigrate to the U.S. without authorization employs what are commonly known as “coyotes,” smugglers connected to organized crime groups (like the Zetas) who prey on people who are desperate to improve the lives of themselves and their families by risking everything to come to the U.S.  What happened to Yasiel Puig happens to many people every day, people are kidnapped, raped, tortured, killed or held for ransom.  This story is garnering so much attention is because it is about a person with exceptional baseball skills, but I sincerely hope that people realize this is not unique situation.
Second, I think the Puig story illustrates just how desperate people are to come to the U.S.  When you stop and think about it, how bad must it be in immigrants’ home countries that they are willing to risk life and limb to leave and seek even a sliver of opportunity?  Contrary to anti-immigrant belief, people generally do not come to the U.S. just to piss the anti-immigrant off personally.  People immigrate to the U.S. for many reasons: escape communism; avoid starvation; avoid torture and persecution; and to try and give their families a future.  If nothing else, I hope the Puig story helps everyone to look on immigration with an empathetic eye, understanding the truly human elements that spark people to seek better lives.

USCIS Announces new DACA Renewal Rules and Form . . . Are Coming Soon!

USCIS has finally posted an update on the renewal process for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The notice is preliminary and subject to change, but it does  it offers over half a million DACA recipients vital information about what they should do to prepare for the road ahead.
The update clarifies DACA renewal issues regarding adjudication procedure, evidence and timing. USCIS will release the updated DACA application form in late May.  No one may file a renewal before that date on the current form (other than those granted Deferred Action by ICE).  As it pertains to required evidence for the renewal, applicants will only be required to submit new documents pertaining to removal proceedings or criminal history that were not been previously submitted to USCIS. 
Because USCIS anticipates adjudicating renewal requests within 120 days, we recommend DACA recipients file for renewal approximately 120 days before the expiration date of their initial DACA grant, but no earlier than 150 days (five months) prior to expiration. USCIS states that it will not accept DACA applications filed more than 150 days in advance of a DACA expiration date.  USCIS states that it “may” provide an automatic extension of the original DACA grant, but appears to limit the automatic extension to individuals who file between 150 and 120 days before their DACA expiration date.
With the release of the updated DACA application form in late May, USCIS will finalize the details of the renewal process.

Good News - Potential Employment Authorization for Spouses of H-1B Workers


On April 7, 2014, the White House announced that “The Department of Homeland Security will soon publish several proposed rules that will make the United States more attractive to talented foreign entrepreneurs and other high-skill immigrants who will contribute substantially to the U.S. economy, create jobs, and enhance American innovative competitiveness.  These proposed regulations include rules authorizing employment for spouses of certain high-skill workers on H-1B visas, as well as enhancing opportunities for outstanding professors and researchers.”

This is big news for the spouses of H-1B employees who are in the United States.  Under current rules, spouses of H-1B workers are allowed to accompany their husband or wife but cannot work in the United States.  This lack of work authorization for spouses has long been a complaint of high-skilled H-1B employees, particularly as H-1B employment can last up to 6 years (and in certain cases, even longer).  Many talented workers are put off by the fact that their spouses will have to put their careers on hold during their time in the United States.  

In short, this is a welcome change that will indeed help America continue to attract the brightest and the best.