Updated: Jan 14, 2019
The Trump Administration’s crackdown on the widely debated H-1B visa is causing quite an uproar among U.S. employers. In a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security, industry group Compete America said USCIS’ approach to deciding who gets an H-1B was “leaving employers with a disruptive lack of clarity about the agency’s practices, procedures, and policies.” Compete America is reporting a “dramatic increase” over the past 18 months in the number of H-1B applications denied or held up by requests for further information, and a “sharp increase” in notices of intent to deny or revoke H-1B visas. The H-1B visa which requires specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher, has become a flashpoint in America’s immigration debate, with many tech companies pushing for an expansion of the annual 85,000 cap on new H-1B visas. Critics of the H-1B visa argue that U.S. firms use it to replace American workers with cheap foreign labor.
Compete America, which represents companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, IBM and Walmart, and outsourcing and consulting firms like Accenture and Deloitte, suggested in its Nov. 1st letter that federal authorities were both “denying and obstructing H-1B applications for improper reasons”. USCIS is accused of targeting applications for jobs with entry-level wages, and also applications for jobs that allegedly don’t match applicants’ degree types.
The group is also pushing back against what it said were denials by USCIS based on the idea that H-1B visas should be used only for jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher. Such a degree should not always be necessary for granting an H-1B, the group said. Compete America is asking USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security to review current H-1B adjudications and practices, and provide any needed clarification internally or with “the regulated community.” Despite the reported effects of Trump’s crackdown, his administration is moving forward with its stated plans to change the way the H-1B visa lottery is run to favor workers with higher education levels, and to revoke work authorization for spouses of H-1B visa holders on track for green cards. The federal government has said it will announce the work ban this month.
A comment period on the proposed employment prohibition is expected to follow the announcement before it would go into effect, but federal rules can be imposed without a comment period.
Paul M. Heller, Esq. | Founder & Principal
Heller Immigration Law Group - 25+ yrs
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