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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published an ambitious immigration regulatory agenda that includes rule proposals for the H-1B, H-4, H-2A, H-2B, F-1 and EB-5 visa programs as well as measures concerning asylum seekers, “public charges,” and migrant families. Many are designed to implement President Trump's America First agenda.

With respect to H-1B visas for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) guest workers, DHS proposes to revise the definition of “specialty occupation” to better protect U.S. workers. The measure also allows foreign students with a master’s degree from a U.S. institution to pre-register for the annual H-1B lottery. If 85,000 such students succeed in getting a H-1B visa, no overseas applicants could apply. A separate H-1B proposal would establish a registration system that permits the filing of only pre-selected H-1B petitions.

The proposal to eliminate work permits for spouses of H-1B workers – those here on H-4 visas -- was initially published in the Spring agenda. The Fall agenda says it will be finalized in November.

Two H-2A agricultural guest worker proposals and one on H-2B seasonal workers seek to ensure that U.S. workers aren’t displaced. The latter would establish a new U.S. worker recruitment process that employers must follow before hiring H-2B guest workers. Another H-2B proposal would set standards for hiring “itinerant” workers at carnivals.

The list does not mention the Optional Practical Training program, which lets foreign graduates of U.S. colleges work after graduation while still under their F-1 student visas. However, one proposal would establish time limits for F-1 visas, which currently remain valid as long as requirements are met.

The EB-5 visa provides green cards to foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 in a enterprise that creates at least 10 U.S. jobs. It has long been criticized for being fraud-ridden and failing to serve poor and rural areas. The fall agenda seeks to finalize an Obama administration rule that would establish anti-fraud measures, increase the standard minimum investment and set a lower level for investing in poor and rural areas.

Two proposals would affect asylum seekers. One would change the initial process for determining “credible fear.” The second seeks to reduce fraud in the process asylum seekers must use to obtain work permits.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services bureau recently published a “public charge” rule that seeks to ensure immigrants and non-immigrants entering the United States rely on the resources of their sponsors and family members rather than public benefits. The Fall agenda says the regulation will be finalized in November.

In September, DHS proposed a rule that would allow for the joint detention of illegal-alien parents and children until they win their asylum case or are deported. Currently under the “Flores settlement,” DHS must release illegal-alien parents and their children after only 20 days. The rule will be finalized in November, according to the Fall agenda

Read more in BNA.

Updated: Fri, Nov 2nd 2018 @ 2:35pm EDT