On December 9, 2016, President Barack Obama signed H.R. 2028 (Pub. L. 114-254), a stop-gap spending bill to keep the government running through April 28, 2017. H.R. 2028 includes a Continuing Resolution that extends four immigration programs: The Conrad 30 J Waiver, the Non-Minister Special Immigrant Religious Worker Visa, the EB-5 Regional Center Visa Program, and the E-Verify Program.

The programs operate as follows:

  • The Conrad 30 J Waiver Program allows foreign physicians who have trained in the United States to apply for a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement that would otherwise obligate them to return to their home countries for two years in exchange for providing full-time medical care over a three-year period to patients in health professional shortage areas or medically underserved populations in the United States.
  • The Non-Minister Special Immigrant Religious Worker Visa makes it possible for non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations who will work in the United States in either a professional or non-professional capacity to apply for permanent residence in the United States.
  • The EB-5 Regional Center Program allows foreign individuals who invest at least $500,000 into commercial enterprises associated with regional centers specifically designated by the USCIS because of their potential to promote economic growth to apply for green cards. Although there were attempts to comprehensively reform this program, Congress ran out of time and the program simply was extended.
  • E-Verify is the government’s electronic employment eligibility verification system, extension of which means the service will not be disrupted for the many companies across the United States that participate in the program.

The Continuing Resolution did not include an extension of the H-2B Returning Worker Exemption. The H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers Program allows workers to temporarily enter the United States to perform work that is needed seasonally, intermittently, for peak-load situations, or for a one-time occurrence. These visas are used by the landscaping, hospitality, tourism, and construction industries, among others. There is a cap of 66,000 H-2B visas available annually. The exemption had allowed individuals who had been in the United States in H-2B status in the previous three years to apply again without being subject to that cap, thereby allowing more than 66,000 workers to use those visas annually.

 

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Photo of Forrest G. Read IV Forrest G. Read IV

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice…

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-based nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L, O, TN) for foreign national employees and work-related immigrant (green card) visas, including PERM Labor Certifications, and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations. He has broad experience in advising large, mid-size and small employers on their various immigration needs and developing strategies to help them navigate through complex immigration issues. He also has particular experience in counseling employers in the health care industry and addressing immigration-related issues that arise for their broad range of health care professional employees (including advising on and obtaining employment authorization for medical residents and fellows and obtaining J-1 visa waivers for foreign national physicians completing their medical training in the United States). His immigration practice also includes defending employers in connection with Department of Labor H-1B and H-2B investigations.

Mr. Read’s employment law experience includes representing management, particularly academic medical centers in the GME context, in a wide array of workplace disputes and litigation before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, including matters related to discrimination, retaliation, harassment, disability, family and medical leave, various wage and hour issues, contracts, and intentional torts. He advises academic medical centers on the interplay between applicable academic law and employment law and the ramifications of what are divergent legal requirements and standards. Mr. Read also provides counsel with respect to the legal impact of competency standards for residents and trainees in GME, including situations involving discipline, remediation, and dismissal. He provides advice and guidance in the peer review process, including provision of verification and assessment of training in response to third party inquiries.

As a member of the Firm’s Corporate Diversity Counseling group, Mr. Read also has experience in providing assessments and making recommendations to corporate and institutional clients with respect to diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives, conducting related internal investigations, and shaping, developing and enforcing effective policies and initiatives to ensure consistency with client values and in furtherance of business goals and objectives.