Visas – H-1b, L-1, E, O, TN

District Court Issues Decision on H-1b Validity Period

In Valorem Consulting Group v. USCIS, the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri considered whether it was arbitrary and capricious for USCIS to grant an H-1b visa for only a one year validity period when the Beneficiary was expected to work on multiple projects for different clients. In this case, the District Court noted that the Administrative Procedures Act provides that it could only overturn USCIS’s decision if it was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” The District Court reviewed the case and noted that the record showed that the Petitioner was a consulting company that offered a broad range of professional services to its clients. The Beneficiary was expected to “provide consulting services that vary depending on the client’s needs.” Documentation from the Petitioner and from two end-clients was also submitted. The court found that USCIS initially denied the case on the basis that the evidence the Petitioner had submitted was insufficient to demonstrate that enough specialty occupation work would be available. USCIS had expressed “concern that at some point [the Petitioner] could assign [the Beneficiary] to work for a client on a project that no longer qualified as a ‘specialty occupation.’” After an appeal was initiated, USCIS overturned the denial and approved the case for a one year period. The court dismissed the remainder of the claims other than the validity of the one year period. In reviewing the case, the District court noted that the nature of the Petitioner’s business led to the conclusion that it could not “represent what [the Beneficiary] would be doing on a regular and recurring basis.” It also upheld USCIS’s reliance on the Neufeld Memorandum. It stated that the Beneficiary was expected to provide services for the Petitioner’s clients and “that these tasks varied in nature and duration, making it difficult for USCIS to confirm that [the Beneficiary] was entitled to an H-1b visa and, if so, for how long.” Consequently, the District Court determined that USCIS’s decision to provide only a one year validity period for the Beneficiary’s H-1b was not arbitrary or capricious.

An H-1b increase soon ?

While many are closely following the threats by the new Republican controlled Congress to defund some of the provisions of President Obama’s recent Executive Order, many others in the hi-tech community are closely following whether an increase in the H-1b cap may occur.

US Tech community pushes for more H-1b visas

A Stanford publication recently discussed the continued fight by Silicon Valley IT cos. for an increase in the H-1b quota.

H-1b workers and employers win big !

Lost in the President’s plan to provide relief to millions of undocumented/illegal people here in the US were major changes that will be hugely positive for H-1b workers and employers alike. A summary will be posted later today and more details provided as they become available but, the highlights include: the end of retrogression for US based workers (well, almost); elimination of the need for most h-1b extensions; in many cases, the advantage of being EB2 vs. EB3 would be eliminated; clearer L-1b rules; and, greater portability for H-1b workers which means easier access to resources for US employers. Nice job Mr. President !

H-1b LCA Compliance

HLG partner, Mike Hammond will be a panelist on a webinar being presented by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) entitled “Essential Compliance Issues for Employers-H-1B and the LCA” on Oct 28th.

Senator Grassley Upset Over the H-1b program…… again !

Recently, President Obama made remarks indicating that he wanted to make the H-1b program more efficient as part of the Executive Action that he has promised to deliver in light of Congressional inaction on immigration reform. His remarks immediately drew the ire of Senator Grassley who opined that the H-1b program should have a labor market test attached to it.  In typical form, Senator Grassley falsely claimed that US companies lay off US workers in mass and then replace them with cheaper H-1b workers. It should be alarming to all advocates of legal immigration and business immigration reform that Senator Grassley would be the top Senator and carry tremendous weight over any immigration bill should the Republicans take control over the Senate. Hopes of U.S. companies being able to hire and retain the best and the brightest will be destroyed by a strong wind blowing from the corn fields of Iowa should the Senate change hands in the November election.

New Prevailing Wages

The DOL has published new prevailing wages which can be accessed at the FLCDatacenter.  The new wages went into effect July 1st. These wages are the source used by the DOL in issuing prevailing wage determinations (PWD’s) utilized for PERM applications and certain other immigrant petitions. This on-line data is also commonly used by employers in determining the prevailing wage for H-1b petitions.

Visa Stamping in Canada Suspended for TCN’s

The Department of State has informed the American Immigration Lawyers Association that due to increasingly heavy demand by Canada-based visa applicants, the seven U.S. visa processing posts in Canada are extremely limited in their ability to accept Third Country National (TCN) cases during the peak demand months of June, July, and August. Visa processing those individuals will be suspended during this time.

A Third Country National is a non-Canadian citizen who is not currently a resident of Canada and wants to obtain a visa to the US from a US consulate in Canada. This often involves foreign nationals living in the US who do not want to return to their home countries for visa stamping and instead want to go to Canada to update the visa stamps in their passports.

The Department of State is encouraging such applicants to seek appointments elsewhere in the world, such as in the applicant’s home country. Emergency cases may seek consideration for scheduling an interview at a Canada post by visiting canada.usembassy.gov.

Cases already scheduled for appointments will be completed as scheduled.

H-1b Workers Increase the pay of U.S. Workers

The WSJ ran an interesting article explaining how the employment of H-1b workers actually serves to increase the wages of their US citizen colleagues. This study appears to be in direct contradiction to the propaganda spouted at the dog and pony show put on by Senator Sessions a few weeks ago.

Senator Sessions holds anti-H-1b meeting

Senator Sessions (R-Ala) a long-time and outspoken opponent of the H-1b visa and any increase in the H-1b quota or an increase in legal immigration, hosted a policy discussion last week to denounce any increase in the H-1b cap. The premise of the discussion was that there were plenty of unemployed US workers with STEM degrees who were being bypassed for cheaper H-1b visa holders. Check out the summary of the arguments being made.