Under a final rule that will take effect Feb. 16, highly skilled professionals from Australia, Chile and Singapore under the H-1B1 and E-3 categories will be allowed to work based on their status with a specific employer rather than having to apply separately for employment authorization. In addition, if the employer has filed to extend their status, their employment authorization with that employer will be extended for 240 days beyond the expiration of their current stay.

Additionally, the rule benefits outstanding professors and researchers in the employment-based first preference category (EB-1) by allowing them to submit expanded types of evidence to prove they are internationally recognized as outstanding in their academic fields. Currently, applicants are limited to an enumerated list of initial evidence to prove their qualifications. The rule will allow applicants to submit evidence that is comparable to accepted items on the current list.

The purpose of the rule is to remove unnecessary obstacles for highly skilled workers and to reduce disruption of the continued employment of H-1B1 and E-3 highly skilled professionals seeking extensions of status, in line with the rules for other nonimmigrant categories. The rule similarly permits continued employment while an extension request is pending for nonimmigrant workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) classification. The expansion of acceptable evidence for outstanding professors and researchers in the EB-1 category harmonizes the rules among employment-based categories and provides greater flexibility for employers who are recruiting researchers in this preference category.

The Department of Homeland Security proposed the rule in May 2014. The final rule is due to be published in the Federal Register Jan. 15 and takes effect Feb. 16.

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