Since Trump administration has taken office, there have been many changes introduced to tighten the loopholes of the H1B program and increase oversight. These changes introduced by Trump Administration and USCIS will have a significant impact for the H1B FY 2019 season’s approvals, we could see that impact in FY 2018 petitions approvals trends with more RFEs. Below is quick summary of what has been introduced or changes in terms of H1B program in the last one year.
- New Measures to Report H1B fraud, abuse
- More H1B visa related Site Visits
- Computer Programmer and Level 1 Wages
- Buy American Hire American Executive Order
- USCIS Updated policy for H1B Extensions
- New Policy memo for Third Party worksite H1B petitions
- H1B Duplicate Petitions New adopted Rule
- H4 EAD Removal Regulation
- Other planned H1B changes from Fall 2017 Regulatory agenda.
- H1B Visa Bills in Senate and House
Let’s look at each of them in little more detail and there are links for full details.
New Measures to Report H1B Fraud, Abuse : USCIS created a new dedicated email ‘ReportH1BAbuse@uscis.dhs.gov’ to submit any H1B violations, tips and other info about potential H1B abuse or fraud. There was a way to report to Dept. of Labor on the underpaid wages scenario, but with this new option they have increased options to report violations to protect American workers.
More H1B visa related site visits : USCIS increased oversight on the H1B program with more expanded site visits, unlike random visits in the past, focused more on probability of fraud with indicators like H1B dependent employer, offsite employment, unverified employer information, etc.
Computer Programmer and Level 1 Wages for H1B : USCIS clarified that Computer Programmer with Level 1 wage is not a valid specialized occupation. There were many RFEs on this where H1B petition was under this category. This was released a day before the start date of FY 2018 season. You can check out details of all of these three topics above three at USCIS Measures to Report Fraud, Abuse
Buy American Hire American Executive Order : President Trump signed an executive order called “Buy American, Hire American” , where the whole motto is to create more protections for US workers and their interests are protected when hiring is done in US. The executive order has basically make other govt. agencies like USCIS to change their mission statement and other aspects of how H1B program is run to protect US workers. More details at Buy American Hire American EO by Trump
USCIS Updated policy for H1B Extensions : In the past, if the extension petition meets certain criteria like same employer, employee and other same facts, USCIS officer has to give importance to that decision for approvals. But, with this new updated policy for H1B, L1 extensions, prior approval decision of the H1B petition has no additional weightage and all the extensions will be reviewed just like a new petition and make sure everything is right and the burden is on the employer to provide all the documentation correctly. This impacts most of the body shop companies. You can read more at USCIS Updated policy for H1B, L1 Extensions
New Policy memo for Third Party worksite H1B petitions : USCIS in Feb 2018, introduced this new policy requirement for third party worksite H1B petitions, where the employer has to submit detailed contracts, itinerary, work assignments, etc. and letter signed by end client that tells the duties, wages, hours, benefits, etc. Also, employer has to provide these details for the entire petition duration they are filing for and USCIS decides on how much of approval time to give based on all of this info. Also, the employer has to make sure all of these were met in the previously approved period as well. This has a significant impact on the IT Body shop and MNC Outsourcing companies. You can check more details at Policy Memo Details for Third-party worksite H1B petitions
H1B Duplicate Petitions New adopted Rule : This rule came in end of March 2018 stating that employers cannot file multiple petitions for same beneficiary, if they are related entities in any way, even though they are not legally connected like parent and subsidiary. Primarily, this applies to scenarios like where we have multiple employers applying for same job role at a client. USCIS has the discretion to decide on the related entities and they can revoke or deny petitions, if they find multiple petitions for the same H1B employee sponsored by multiple sponsors. More details at H1B New Adopted Rule on Duplicate Filings rule
H4 EAD Removal Regulation : ‘Save Jobs USA’ filed a lawsuit against DHS that H4 EAD rule was given without proper authority by DHS and has no protections to US workers. As the lawsuit progressed for couple of years in court and finally DHS published an agenda item last year in Fall regulatory agenda to remove H4 visa EADs. As of now, DHS updated to court that after review by USCIS, the draft they prepared need to further reviewed and they need till June 2018. This has an impact on the H1B filings as many spouses may need to file for H1B to work in US. You can check details of H4 Visa EAD Rule Lawsuit and DHS, USCIS Latest Status
Other planned H1B changes from Fall 2017 Regulatory agenda : There were other items on the Fall 2017 regulatory agenda like H1B program changes to have registration requirement for H1B lottery, strengthening the H1B program to prevent fraud and other changes related to F1 Visa OPT, CPT changes to protect US workers. You can read all the details of Fall 2017 Regulatory Agenda H1B, F1 Changes
H1B Visa Bills in House, Senate : Besides the above, there are few other H1B visa related bills in House and Senate that are around increasing wage to 130k, H1B visa reform acts, protect and grow American jobs, etc. Not much have progressed in many of these, you can check all H1B Visa Bills by Trump in Senate and House
Recently USCIS wrote to Senate outlining all of the above changes in a letter with all updates and plans of USCIS. Check USCIS Letter sent to Senate Judiciary committee
Did I miss anything ? What are your thoughts on approval rates for FY 2019 ?