Quick Hits

  • USCIS recently announced that it has updated its definition for “Schedule A, Group II” occupations.
  • USCIS has now clarified that Schedule A, Group II “Sciences or Arts” occupations include occupations in any field of knowledge and/or skill for which colleges and universities commonly offer courses leading to a degree.
  • This clarification aligns USCIS’s policy with DOL regulations.

In connection with the current administration’s push to retain STEM talent, USCIS has updated its definition for “Schedule A, Group II” occupations. Schedule A occupations are occupational categories that the DOL has determined to be suffering a shortage of able, willing, and qualified U.S. workers, and therefore is not subject to a labor market test requirement in permanent residency sponsorship applications.

The updated Schedule A, Group II designation incorporates the definition set forth by the Department of Labor (DOL). Specifically, USCIS has officially adopted the DOL’s definition of “sciences or arts” to cover any field for which U.S. colleges and universities commonly offer specialized courses leading to a degree.

Practically, this change potentially expands the Schedule A, Group II designation to cover any employee working in a field for which colleges and universities commonly offer a Bachelor’s or higher degree, who is able to “demonstrate exceptional ability,” has been working in a position that requires exceptional ability for at least one year and will continue to do so.

The Schedule A designation waives the labor market test requirement for employment-based permanent residency sponsorships in the EB-2 or EB-3 categories, which leads to a faster and more streamlined application process. This new development opens up more options for high achieving employees seeking permanent residency in the United States.

Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments and will publish updates on the Immigration blog as additional information becomes available.

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