US toughens H1B visa norms

The Trump administration in a tough policy measure that would affect skilled Indian technology workers has said that those to be employed at one or more third-party work sites will now have to prove they are employed in a specialty profession and employers will have to provide proof of employment.

Tightening the procedure of issuing H1B visas, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services on Thursday in a memo said that “employers must provide contracts and itineraries for employees who will work at a third-party location,”

The guidance, effective from February 22, and which came ahead of the start of the H1B visas filing season, explained that for an H-1B petition involving a third-party worksite to be approved, the petitioner must show, among other things, evidence that the beneficiary will be employed in a specialty occupation.

It also said that “the employer will maintain an employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary for the duration of the requested validity period.

The H-1B programme offers temporary US visas that allow companies to hire highly skilled foreign professionals working in areas where there is a shortage of qualified American workers.

Indians get most of the H1-B visas, although there are no national quotas for the facility nor is it specifically designed for Indians.

“When H-1B beneficiaries are placed at third-party worksites, petitioners must demonstrate that they have specific and non-speculative qualifying assignments in a specialty occupation for that beneficiary for the entire time requested on the petition.

“While an H-1B petition may be approved for up to three years, USCIS will, in its discretion, generally limit the approval period to the length of time demonstrated that the beneficiary will be placed in non-speculative work and during which the petitioner will maintain the requisite employer-employee relationship.”

The immigration department said the updated policy guidance aligned with President Trump’s ‘Buy American and Hire American’ executive order and the directive to protect the interests of US workers.

“Employment-based petitioners who circumvent the worker protections outlined in the nation’s immigration laws not only injure U.S. workers (e.g., their wages and job opportunities), but also the foreign workers for whom they are petitioning,” it said.

And in a separate mission statement, USCIS said that America is no longer a ‘nation of immigrants’.

The agency’s new mission statement said, “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.”

Its previous statement said: “USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.”

The removal of the phrase “nation of immigrants” was announced to agency staff in an email from Director L. Francis Cissna.

“I believe this simple, straightforward statement clearly defines the agency’s role in our country’s lawful immigration system and the commitment we have to the American people,” said Cissna.


Savio Rodrigues

Savio Rodrigues Founder & Editor-in-Chief

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