The Department of Homeland Security announced two new proposed rules Tuesday morning aimed at attracting and holding onto highly skilled immigrants. It’s the latest effort by the Obama administration to change immigration policy while Congress continues to stall on passing comprehensive reform legislation.

The rules, presented on a call with reporters by DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, will remove obstacles to remaining in the U.S. for certain temporary workers and offer employment visas for some of those workers’ spouses.

H-1B visas are temporary employment permits for foreign workers with a theoretical or technical expertise in particular fields such as engineering, science or computer programming among others. Currently, H-1B workers are given a three-year duration of stay that is extendable to six years and, in very specific, special circumstances, up to 10 years. There are, however, a number of obstacles that make it difficult for H-1B workers to remain in the United States after their visa has expired.

The new rules announced Tuesday aim to knock down at least a few of these hurdles, especially for highly skilled professionals like professors and researchers from Chile, SingaporeAustralia, and the Northern Mariana Islands who are apparently given priority for such work authorizations and extensions over workers from other countries.

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