Immigration Lawyer Explains the H1B Visa Changes

By May 27, 2020Immigration Law Blog
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As an immigration lawyer group in Pasadena, California, a lot of our everyday interactions with clients involve Visas. Recently the H1B Visa has been making headlines, so today we want to talk a little bit about that and what this means for current H1B Visa holders and those seeking an H1B Visa.

Immigration Lawyer Explains the H1B Visa Changes

On March 20th, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached an agreement with the business group, ITServe Alliance. This agreement is set to end ten years of H1B Visa restrictions that have been put on employers by USCIS in the “Neufeld” memo.

The “Neufeld” memo, the USCIS claimed full authority to refuse H1B Visa applications based solely on a limited understanding of what constituted an “employer-employee” relationship – information that could be particularly limited.

Employers hope that the new ruling will provide them with more opportunity to extend H1B Visas, but not everyone is so sure.

The Impact of the H1N Visa Ruling

While the ruling sounds like a big step forward for businesses, the truth is that no one really knows just how helpful this new ruling is going to be. The problem being that the Trump administration seems hellbent on doing anything possible to restrict immigration of any form. In fact, there have been rumors that President Trump has it in his head that the H1B Visa should be suspended.

Suspension Of H1B Visas

So, what does the possible suspension of the H1B Visa program mean? It’s hard to tell just yet, but we believe that if this suspension is put into place, it will not be retroactive. That is, it will only apply to new H1B Visa applicants and current H1B Visa holders will not be affected.

The Current Status of H1B Visas

A reduction in the number of H1N Visas that are issued will seemingly be nothing new. Since President Trump was elected, H1B Visas have been issued with significantly less frequency. During the first quarter of 2020, an analysis of H1B Visa applications has shown that denial rates for those applications has gone up from 6% in the 2015 fiscal year to 30%! That’s an incredible jump that poses a significant risk for companies that rely on H1B employees to run efficiently. This means that it makes the production of goods slower and harder and many companies are going to have to invest in costly training in order to fill select positions. In today’s economy, that’s just funding that most businesses can’t afford!

Interested in a few more numbers? The 25 companies that had the highest number of new approved H1N Visa petitions still saw a considerable decrease in their petition approval rate. Other industries saw their refusal rate climb up to 20%

The changes made by the Trump administration that have led to an increase in denial rates, along with his overall attitude towards stricter immigration regulations, have led to a number of concerns that have left the administration facing legal action based on the legitimacy of the administration’s denials of applications and implementation of questionable practices.

More Interesting Facts

It would appear that the Trump administration has implemented extremely strict requirements on employers in order to deny H1B Visa petitions. For example, one article states that Trump has instructed USCIS to “deny H1B Visa petitions if an employer is unable to specify every contract or duty to be performed while in H1B status.”

Forbes reports that most of the denials and short-term approvals (some for as little as one day) trace back to a memo issued by USCIS in late February. The memo was entitled “Contracts and Itineraries Requirements for H1B Petitions Involving Third-Party Worksites.” The content of this memo is one of the major points in ITServe Alliance’s case against USCIS where they claim that Congress at no time required that applications list work that was to be done by the Visa holder in the future. Additionally, ITServe Alliance cited the American Competitiveness in the Workfore Improvement Act of 1998 in which it says that employers are permitted – if required – to retain their H1B staff even during periods in which they are “non-productive” as long as the petitioning company continues paying the Visa holder according to the Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998.

New Restrictions and Changes

The Trump administration has also allegedly been planning to add in new H1B Visa restrictions despite the recent ruling by courts in the ITServe Alliance case. Many believe that this new “addition” to restrictions is simply going to put a temporary ban on U.S. work visas for around 60-days. That said, there is pressure on the administration to suspend these programs for longer due to the current interruption of the U.S. economy as a result of Coronavirus. Whether that would actually be a good thing for the country remains to be seen, though, as many of our countries industries depend on H1N Visa holders.

Are You In Need Of An Immigration Lawyer In Pasadena?

If you are in need of an immigration attorney in or around Pasadena, California who can help you with your Visa and immigration questions, Nelson and Associates can help! Just give us a call today at 626-683-3451 and let’s get started on addressing your questions and concerns.