CFGI Quoted – “Tweaked policies wreaking havoc on the H-1B application process”

CIO Dive

“Organizations have long relied on the H-1B system to grant access to highly technical foreign talent…but the attitude toward immigration in the U.S. has changed and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) policies have made the application process more challenging.

“The lottery opens on April 2 and already organizations are scrambling to ensure applications are properly completed.

“…While seemingly small changes to H-1B processing can cause headaches for petitioners, it has a chilling effect in the ongoing debate about U.S. immigration policies.

“‘There is a general notion within the broader stakeholder community, even at the international student level, that these polices do convey messages of the United States being a little less welcoming,’ said Rebecca Peters, director of government affairs at the Council for Global Immigration.

“Particularly in the STEM fields, which attracts significant numbers of H-1B petitioners, other countries are hiring.

“‘Eventually, if Congress won't address these issues, the market will,’ Peters said.

“Immigration officials, lawyers and visa applicants were sent scurrying last year when USCIS rolled out policy memos just weeks — and in some cases days — before the cap opened.

“…The impact of increased scrutiny is felt by all H-1B applicants, not just tech workers or third-party contractors.

“Through many of its memorandums, USCIS is seeking additional evidence. With recently issued third-party worksites memorandum, for example, the agency is essentially requesting itineraries and contracts which show the employer-employee relationship in detail, according to Peters.

“…Whether an individual employer or the end client, the H-1B petition process can take between six and 10 months to prepare, Peters said. With the memo issued just weeks before the start of the cap season, many petitions will likely need amendment.

“…The H-1B petition process already demands close attention to detail and patience on the part of both companies and petitioners.  But the series of memorandums sent out by USCIS add nuance to the application process, and in some cases further slows the process.

“…In many cases, it can be close to effective date and applications are still not adjudicated and RFEs delay the process further.

“…Over the last 14 months of the Trump administration, ‘we know that RFEs in general are up over 50% compared to last year,’ Peters said.  

“…USCIS is working to improve the petition process and is scheduled to consider at a future date a notice of proposed rule making to install an electronic process to allow employers to file basic information in advance of the cap, though a potential system is a a long way out, according to Peters.

“‘If it's done appropriately, this would allow employers to really wait to file the actual petitions until after the lottery has been conducted,’ she said. ‘So it would actually save government and employer resources if it's done correctly.’”

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