On April 4, 2018, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Director L. Francis Cissna wrote a letter to Senator Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to provide him with an update on measures USCIS is taking to improve the integrity of the nonimmigrant employment visa program following the April 18, 2017 “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order. Director Cissna indicated that changes have and will continue to be made in the form of regulations, policy memoranda, and operational changes.
The letter overviewed the following changes to various nonimmigrant visas:
- Recently published updated guidance regarding third-party worksites and the requirement for detailed itineraries and additional supporting documentation (contracts, etc.) demonstrating non-speculative specialty occupation employment when H-1B petitions involved third-party worksite placement
- Implemented a dedicated email address for the public to report suspected H-1B fraud and abuse (ReportH1BAbuse@uscis.dhs.gov)
- Implemented and initiated a more targeted approach to H-1B site visits, especially for H-1B dependent employers to ensure H-1B workers are being paid the statutorily required wage to qualify for an exemption to the recruitment attestation requirements
- Plan to propose regulations to “improve” the H-1B program including establishing an electronic registration program for cap subject petitions and revise the definitions of “specialty occupation” and “employer-employee relationship” to better protect U.S. workers and wages
- Plan to propose additional requirements to ensure payment of appropriate wages to H-1B workers
- Expanded administrative site visits which now include L-1B visa petitions, particularly those where the L-1B beneficiary will primarily work offsite at another company or organization
- Published policy guidance clarifying issues regarding the qualifying corporate L-1 relationship as well as proxy votes
- Published policy guidance clarifying that the TN nonimmigrant economist classification is to be defined by the qualifying business activity and generally cannot be used for individuals filling related Financial Analyst, Market Research Analyst, or Marketing Specialist positions
Other Nonimmigrant Visa Changes
- Issued a policy memorandum instructing USCIS officers to no longer give deference to previously approved nonimmigrant visa petitions when adjudicating extension requests
- Plan to propose a regulation to remove the ability for certain H-4 dependent spouses to apply for employment authorization
- Plan to propose a new regulation to remove the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER)
D&S will continue to provide updates as new policy memoranda, regulations, and operational changes are proposed and take effect.