The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced the publication of two proposed rules, one to extend employment authorization to spouses of certain H-1B workers and the other to enhance opportunities for certain groups of highly skilled workers by removing obstacles to their remaining in the United States.

Under existing regulations, DHS does not extend employment authorization to H-4 dependents of H-1B nonimmigrant workers. The change proposed by DHS would allow H-4 dependent spouses of certain H-1B workers to request employment authorization, as long as the H-1B worker has already started the process of seeking lawful permanent residence through employment.

The second proposed change would update the regulations to include: nonimmigrant high-skilled specialty occupation professionals from Chile and Singapore (H-1B1) and from Australia (E-3) in the list of classes of aliens authorized for employment incident to status with a specific employer; allow E-3, H-1B1 and CW-1 (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) nonimmigrant workers up to 240 days of continued work authorization beyond their current expiration while a timely filed extension request is pending; and expand the current list of evidentiary criteria for employment-based first preference (EB-1) to outstanding professors and researchers.