On January 15, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) issued its long-awaited final rule regarding highly skilled workers from Australia, Chile, Singapore, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (“CNMI”), along with amendments favoring employment-based immigration. In summary, this rule:

  • facilitates more favorable processing of H-1B1 and E-3 treaty-based extension of status petitions;
  • adds E-3 Australian, H-1B1 Chilean/Singaporean, and CW-1 CNMI nationals to the list of those work-authorized nonimmigrants who can secure up to 240 days of continued employment authorization beyond their current expiration date simply by filing their timely extensions with USCIS before their current status expires;
  • clarifies that principal E-3 and H-1B1 nonimmigrants are authorized to work incident to their status and thus do not have to obtain independent employment authorization (applied in practice but not officially adopted as a formal regulation); and
  • expands the type of evidence that foreign nationals being sponsored under EB-1 outstanding professor and researcher permanent residency petitions can submit to include “comparable evidence” of their outstanding professor or research work.

This rule is expected to take effect on February 16, 2016.