The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced two proposed regulations designed to attract and retain highly-skilled immigrants.
One rule would extend employment authorization to spouses of H-1B visa holders being sponsored for a green card by their employers.
U.S. businesses use the H-1B visa program to employ foreign workers in jobs requiring expertise in science, engineering, computer programming and other specialized fields.
The other proposal involves removing obstacles to staying in the United States for certain groups of highly-skilled workers, including those from Chile, Singapore and Australia.
The Homeland Security department says together, these two actions "will help attract new businesses and new investment to the U.S. and ensure that the U.S. has the most skilled workforce in the world."
Immigration remains a divisive political issue in the United States. It has now been more than 10 months since the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to overhaul the nation's immigration system and create a path to citizenship for the estimated 11.5 million people in the U.S. illegally.
But immigration reform has stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Advocates have now turned to pushing U.S. President Barack Obama to take executive action.