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The Obama Administration announced a proposed rule that would give work authorization to the spouses of certain H-1B workers, increasing job competition for the 20 million Americans who want full-time work but can’t find it. It does not appear that these spouses will be counted against the visa cap on the category of job they pursue, so the move would expand immigration by executive fiat.

The proposal would, for the first time, allow work permits for the spouses of H-1B workers who have begun the process of applying for a green card through their employers. Currently their spouses can move to the U.S. with them, but are prevented from working.

DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the proposed rule is meant to keep America competitive as more countries offer incentives to attract the workers. "The proposed rules announced today provide important support to U.S. businesses while also supporting economic growth here in the U.S.," he said. "This enhances our country's competitiveness to attract skilled workers from other countries.” Mayorkas said that about 97,000 people could benefit from the proposal in the first year, and 30,000 each year after.

Reacting to the proposal Stephen Miller, a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said "The U.S. already provides businesses with 700,000 temporary guest workers every year to compete against unemployed Americans, in addition to the annual flow of 1 million permanent legal immigrants. The administration's unilateral decision to increase that number will hurt already-struggling American workers."

A second rule announced today would make it easier for foreign workers from Chile, Singapore, Australia and the Northern Mariana Islands to extend their stays in the U.S. Workers from these countries who have at least a bachelor's degree in a specialized field are currently allowed to extend their stay, but must document their work history. The proposed rule would give these workers more time in the U.S. and make it easier for them to get DHS approval.

A third proposed rule would facilitate the ability of foreign professors and researchers to extend their stays under the EB-1 visa category.

Read more from the Associated Press.

foreign workers
H-1B visas