SAALT welcomes visa modernization changes announced today

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 15, 2015

Contact: Lakshmi Sridaran

415.264.2494

lakshmi@saalt.org

Today’s release of the Presidential Memorandum on visa modernization, the latest component of the President’s executive action on immigration announced in November, 2014 is welcome news, but reminds us that the job is not done.

Unfortunately, more action could not be taken to address visa backlogs because it requires legislative action. “Today’s announcement only further underscores the importance of the continued push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation that includes a path to citizenship,” said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

However, SAALT is very pleased to see that today’s announcement expands and expedites work authorization and economic opportunity for some immigrant victims of domestic violence. Specifically, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will allow Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitioners to simultaneously file for work authorization to reduce wait times for survivors of domestic violence. Certain non-immigrant battered spouses will also be eligible for work authorization. We applaud the many South Asian Women’s Organizations (SAWOs) around the country who have been advocating for these changes for years.

We also welcome updates and clarifications to the U and T visa programs that we hope will allow more victims of crime (U visa) and human trafficking (T visa) to remain in the United States and access justice. These include DHS publishing a regulation to clarify the U nonimmigrant application procedure and the public charge exemption of inadmissibility as well as publishing a comprehensive T nonimmigrant status regulation to reflect the numerous changes in the law and application process.

Lastly, SAALT is pleased to see updates and clarifications to the H-1B visa program related to job flexibility and documentation requirements. These include improvements that will provide increased guidance on job flexibility provisions for those seeking new employment and modify forms for H-1B extensions to provide documentation of previous adjudications to simplify the process.

“These important updates and executive action writ large, while not legislative change, are a welcome step in the right direction. Our nation and our communities continue to need just and inclusive immigration reform legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship, keeps families together, and expands economic opportunity for all aspiring Americans. We remain committed to that ultimate goal,” said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).