Phase II: Presidential Memorandum on Modernizing and Streamlining the U.S. Immigrant Visa System


On December 30, 2014, U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security posted an immigration policy notice to the Federal Register requesting recommendation to reform the immigrant visa system. The Office of the Federal Register informs citizens of their rights and obligations, documents the actions of Federal agencies, and provides a forum for public participation in the democratic process. Publications to the Federal Register include: Presidential Documents, including Executive orders and proclamations; Rules and Regulations, including policy statements and interpretations of rules; Proposed Rules, including petitions for rulemaking and other advance proposals; Notices, including scheduled hearings and meetings open to the public, grant applications, administrative orders, and other announcements of government actions.

Pursuant to the December 30 Immigration Policy Notice, public comment is open until January 29, 2015 to address the following:

Streamlining the Legal Immigration System

1. What are the most important policy and operational changes that would streamline and improve the processing of immigrant visas at U.S. Embassies and Consulates, for both family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant visas?

2. What are the most important policy and operational changes that would streamline and improve the processing of nonimmigrant visas at U.S. Embassies and Consulates, including visitor, student, temporary worker and other nonimmigrant visas?

3. What are the most important policy and operational changes that would streamline and improve U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing of the following types of immigrant and nonimmigrant visa petitions?

          a.  Family-sponsored immigrant visa petitions

          b.  Employment-based immigrant visa petitions

          c.  Nonimmigrant petitions

          d. Humanitarian petitions and applications (U nonimmigrant status, T nonimmigrant status, and VAWA self-petitions)

          e. H-1B temporary worker visa petitions, specifically, ways to reduce burdens on employers and workers engaging in the H-1B petition process, consistent with protections for U.S. and temporary foreign workers. (Note that employment authorization for certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1 B nonimmigrants was a part of the President’s November 20 announcement described above, and recommendations regarding that topic should not be submitted here.)

4. What are the most important policy and operational changes that would streamline and improve the process of changing from one nonimmigrant status to another nonimmigrant status?

5. What are the most important policy and operational changes that would streamline and improve the process of applying for adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident while in the United States?

6. What are the most important policy and operational changes that would streamline and improve the inspection of arriving immigrants and nonimmigrants at U.S. ports of entry?

7. What are the most important policy and operational changes that would attract the world’s most talented researchers to U.S. universities, national laboratories, and other research institutions? (Do not submit responses directly related to the actions announced on November 20, including the strengthening and extending of the Optional Practical Training program for foreign students. Separate processes exist to engage regarding those actions where necessary; see details above.)

8. What are the most important policy and operational changes that would attract the world’s most talented entrepreneurs who want to start and grow their business in the United States? (Do not submit responses directly related to the actions announced on November 20, including the “national interest waiver” and “significant public benefit” parole pathways for entrepreneurs. Separate processes exist to engage regarding those actions where necessary; see details above.)

9. What are the policy or operational changes that could assist in creating additional immigration opportunities for high-demand professions, such as physicians?

10. Focusing on the EB-5 immigrant investor visa, what policy or operational changes would (a) reduce existing burdens and uncertainties on the part of petitioners, Regional Centers, and other participants in the program; (b) ensure that this program is achieving the greatest impact in terms of U.S. job creation, economic growth, and investment in national priority projects that the capital markets would not otherwise competitively finance; and (c) enhance protections against fraud, abuse, and criminal misuse of the program by petitioners or Regional Centers?

11. How can labor market related requirements for temporary workers be best tailored to meaningfully protect both U.S. and temporary foreign workers while achieving operational efficiency for both employers and relevant Federal agencies?

12. How should relevant occupational categories, descriptors, and/or data, such as the Department of Labor’s O*NET system (http://www.onetonline.org) be refined and updated to better align the prevailing wage determination process for visas with the evolving job market?

13. Focusing on the diversity visa program, what are the most important policy and operational changes that would streamline and improve the diversity visa process, including enhancing protections against fraud?

14. What other policy and operational changes would most effectively combat waste, fraud, and abuse in the legal immigration system?

Ensuring Use of All Immigrant Visa Numbers

15. What are the most important policy and operational changes, if any, available within the existing statutory framework to ensure that administrative policies, practices, and systems fully and fairly allocate all of the immigrant visa numbers that Congress provides for and intends to be issued each year going forward?

16. What are the most important policy and operational changes, if any, available within the existing statutory framework to ensure that administrative policies, practices, and systems fully and fairly allocate all of the immigrant visa numbers that Congress provided for and intended to be issued, but were not issued in past years?

Modernizing IT Infrastructure

17. From the perspective of petitioners and applicants, which elements of the current legal immigration system (both immigrant and nonimmigrant systems) are most in need of modernized information technology (IT) solutions, and what changes would result in the most significant improvements to the user experience?

18. Which existing government-collected data and metrics would be most valuable to make available to the public, consistent with privacy protections and national security, in order to improve oversight and understanding of the legal immigration system?

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