SAALT welcomes visa modernization changes announced today


July 15, 2015

Contact: Lakshmi Sridaran


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).