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This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh is an active member.

In a significant development for employers and individuals involved in the STEM fields, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced an update to the definition of “Schedule A, Group II” occupations, which is part of the agency’s efforts to align more closely with the Department of Labor (DOL) definitions and streamline the permanent residency application process for high-achieving employees. This clarification, as outlined in the latest policy guidance from USCIS, expands the “science or art” categories within Schedule A, Group II, to include any field of knowledge or skill for which colleges and universities commonly offer courses leading to a degree. This change, effective immediately, is designed to enhance the utility of the Schedule A, Group II designation for employers sponsoring employees for permanent residency, particularly in sectors experiencing a shortage of qualified U.S. workers.

The updated policy now explicitly incorporates the DOL’s definition of “sciences or arts,” covering a broader range of occupations than previously eligible. This means that occupations in any field that commonly lead to a degree from higher education institutions, and that demonstrate exceptional ability, are now encompassed under the Schedule A, Group II designation. Importantly, this designation waives the labor market test requirement for EB-2 or EB-3 permanent residency sponsorship applications, facilitating a more efficient pathway to permanent residency for eligible employees. This policy update reflects the current administration’s commitment to retaining STEM talent within the United States and underscores the agency’s ongoing efforts to make the immigration process more accommodating for individuals with exceptional abilities in the sciences and arts.

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