On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced a series of executive actions to address various issues with our current immigration system. Much of the reporting on these executive actions has focused on the initiatives to defer deportations for many of the undocumented individuals living in the U.S. While such initiatives are a significant aspect of the president’s executive actions, and something for which the attorneys at Phillips Lytle can offer legal assistance to qualified persons, there are additional aspects of the executive actions that are of importance to U.S. businesses.

Many of the other actions announced by the president are intended to offer new opportunities to grow businesses, hire qualified workers, and “grow our economy and create jobs.” For example, the Executive Action on Immigration will:

  • offer visa options for founders of start-up enterprises, inventors or researchers that offer the promise of innovation and job creation;
  • grant employment authorization to spouses of certain H-1B visa holders; and
  • expand and extend the use of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program for foreign students to allow them to work in the U.S. for a longer period of time after graduating.

These are just a few aspects of the new initiatives that are intended to benefit employers seeking to hire highly-skilled workers, foreign nationals with innovative and thoughtful business ideas and investments, and young, educated professionals looking to apply their skills and talents in the U.S.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is now tasked with implementing these executive actions, and is in the process of clarifying requirements and designing application procedures.