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We’ve recently been hearing a lot about Schedule A and some proposed changes, which could be great for many immigrants (or would-be immigrants) to the U.S. This blog post will explain what Schedule A is, what proposed changes are being discussed, and how this could benefit you.

 

What is Schedule A in U.S. Immigration?

Schedule A jobs in the context of U.S. immigration refers to a specific category of jobs that the Department of Labor (DOL) has pre-certified as having a shortage of available, qualified, and willing U.S. workers.

 

The Benefits of Schedule A for Green Card Sponsorship

In practical terms, for green card sponsorship, employers seeking to hire foreign nationals for Schedule A positions do not need to go through the labor certification process. This labor certification process requires employers to recruit to show there are no qualified, willing, and available U.S. workers to fill the position in question and for Schedule A jobs, the DOL correctly realizes that it would be futile (and a waste of resources) to have employers to recruit for positions that have designated labor shortages.

 

Historical Context and Current Limitations of Schedule A

As the American Immigration Council explains “Established in the 1960s, it was designed to help the country attract foreign talent to fill labor shortages in various high-demand occupations and industries. When an occupation is listed on Schedule A, the Secretary of Labor has already established the need for workers, so certain time-consuming steps in the labor certification process are eliminated. An employer includes the labor certification application with its petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to sponsor the foreign worker.” Schedule A is great in theory but the reality is that the Schedule A Group I list contains only 2 positions – professional nurses and physical therapists – and the list has not been updated since 1991! Schedule A also has a Group II for certain workers in the sciences or arts.

 

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The Urgent Need for Modernizing Schedule A

The needs of the labor market have greatly changed since 1991 and in our constantly evolving labor market, plus the added impacts of COVID (hello teacher shortage!), there is an urgent need to update this list. Modernizing Schedule A could be a very effective way to get the U.S. the workers it really needs.

 

Recent Developments and Future Prospects of Schedule A

The Biden Administration has taken note of Schedule A and – in the recent Executive Order on AI – asked the Department of Labor to “publish a request for information (RFI) to solicit public input… identifying AI and other STEM-related occupations, as well as additional occupations across the economy, for which there is an insufficient number of ready, willing, able, and qualified Unit.”

 

Public Participation in Shaping the Future of Schedule A

In December 2023, the DOL did just that and it issued a Request for Information to allow the public to provide input on whether to revise the list of Schedule A job classifications. The RFI is open for public comment through February 20, 2024, and you can make your comment here.

 

Conclusion: The Importance of Modernizing Schedule A

I hope that you’ll take the time to comment on this, I know we certainly will. Modernizing Schedule A – in addition to filling many open positions – will be an important step in showing that the U.S. wants to continue to be a beacon for innovation, top talent, and progress. McEntee Law Group has long spoken about how – with immigration changes, America can rank first in global talent and updating Schedule A would be a very welcome change indeed.

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