Tougher Approval ; H1B Visa Extension Rule Changes

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The H1B non-immigrant work visa continues to attract the attention of the Trump administration, and even without any new legislation there is wave of new rules and regulations. The most recent targets the H1B visa ‘extension’ process, making it tougher for existing H1B visa workers to renew their visa. This has previously been an easy approval but now that is all changing.

The Facts

A. The H1B visa is valid for three years, once the petition is approved

B. The visa can be extended for an additional one to three years, and in some cases longer

C. The basis for extension since 2004 was nearly automatic, and the burden was on the USCIS to show a reason to deny an extension

D. As of October 22, 2017, that rule has been modified to place the burden on the petitioner for any extension

New Rule Mean

Previously, eligibility for an H1B extension was based on the original petition, and no re-application of supporting documents and qualifications was required. Now, the new rule requires USCIS officers to scrutinize applications for extensions just as they would an original petition. It is essentially the same as submitting a new petition. The justification is as always to “protect the interests of US workers”. Check for H1B Visa Evaluation in UT Evaluators

The result of this change means:

A. Longer lead times to submit extension applications, due to assembling paperwork and USCIS review

B. Existing H1B visa workers are no longer guaranteed an extension, and may be caught off guard or won’t have time to process the extension prior to expiration

C. Some workers in positions that no longer qualify for new H1B visas (entry level computer programmers) will have their extensions denied

D. HR departments at large tech firms employing many H1B workers will have to increase their workload to assemble the extension applications

The Purpose of This Rule Change Is

The unstated purpose seems to be to ‘weed out’ current H1B workers who would be rejected if they were submitting a new petition. This could include many workers that are currently employed by outsourcing firms, and contracted out to other companies. Many of those workers (and their employers) were probably assuming that they would escape the barrage of H1B administrative reforms, since their petition was already previously approved.

For example, an entry level computer programmer who was hired two years ago, is now facing the almost certain prospect that any extension application will be denied. It is unlikely that these workers were planning to return home, and has a very real impact on the outsourcing companies that employ them.

It is definitely a blow to firms like Infosys and Wipro who were probably not factoring in a new level of intense scrutiny for extensions, and thinking that they could rely on their existing pool of current H1B visa workers.

Just an Internal Memo Made This Rule Change

This rule change was implemented by a simple internal memorandum within USCIS. It does illustrate the effectiveness of working within current immigration laws, and making internal agency regulations more difficult to comply with. For H1B Visa Process Visit here

This approach is aligned with the Trump administration’s overall H1B visa strategy, to make as many administrative changes as possible to restrict access to the program, by unqualified or low wage workers. This saves the time and political capital of pushing new legislation forward, and can be done with the stroke of a pen.

The good news is that new H1B petitioners are on the same playing level as existing H1B workers, so there is no advantage if a foreign national is already working in the US. Please contact us for assistance in finding a sponsor and position in your specialty occupation.

H1B Visa Extensions not Under Threat, According to USCIS

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A spokesperson from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has stated that extensions to the H1B visa program are not under threat, as was widely reported at the start of January.

“USCIS is not considering a regulatory change that would force H1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing our interpretation of section 104(c) of AC-21, which provides for H1B extensions beyond the 6 year limit,” said Jonathan Withington, Chief of Media Relations for USCIS.

The news has resulted in a collective sigh of relief among the community of technology professionals seeking extensions to their time in the country. However, Homeland Security has stated that it was still conducting a thorough review of worker visa programs. For H1B Visa Process Visit here

Officials have said that the policy change for H1B extensions was never planned at all, although some reports say the administration changed its mind in response to the swift and harsh reaction from the business community.The work visa program has long been a political hot potato in the United States, with some politicians repeatedly calling for it to be scrapped, arguing that it led to job losses for Americans.

Each year, the USCIS grants roughly 85,000 H1B visas, which are issued for up to six years. Once expired, visa holders that have applied for green cards routinely seek extensions under the American Competitiveness Act.

H1B Visa Refusal on Rise under Administrative Processing by US Immigration

There has been an increase in the number of ‘administrative processing’ cases under the 221G section of the US Immigration and Nationality Act, restricting re-issuance of H1B Visa to those who hold jobs in the United States, according to some sources. Reportedly, a number of Indians in information technology, who have been holding H1B visas and working in USA for some years, got stuck in India on their recent visit as their applications to the US consulates in India were placed under administrative processing for an additional background check and security clearance. Check for H1B Visa Evaluation in UT Evaluators

Administrative Processing is not outright refusal of one’s H1B visa application. It is temporary refusal, but it may be frustrating. US Visa consulting experts opine that administrative processing is not an uncommon incidence. The primary objective of issuing temporary refusals to some H1B visa applicants or holders is to seek additional information or documents from them for closer scrutiny.

According to off-site employment and immigration experts, administrative processing under the 221G section of the US Immigration and Nationality Act affects only 2% of H1B visa holders or new applicants. However, this incidence has increasingly been reported over the past few months.

If you are unlucky to face such refusal of your H1B visa application or renewal, you may be required to wait several weeks for the final outcome. The waiting period may be stretched for a few months or years in the worst cases of administrative processing. Even a previously approved H1B visa application may be revoked in this case.

The documents of those placed under the 221G section of the US Immigration and Nationality Act are forwarded to such agencies as FBI, CIA, DEA, Interpol, the US Department of Commerce, and the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for a thorough background check. H1B Visa Process Check here

The documents that H1B visa holders and new applicants are required to provide in case of administrative processing include but not limited to the following:

.Job offer letter or employment agreement from the employer

.Duly signed letter from the client validating the beneficiary’s assignment

.Detailed project description mostly for in-house projects

.Contract between the petitioner and the client or mid-vendor

.Details of services that the beneficiary is required to perform, work sites and dates

.Valid evidence of the beneficiary’s previous work experience and educational qualifications

.Financial documents including both the beneficiary and the petitioner’s tax returns and pay statements

If you are an H1B visa holder and planning to travel to outside of USA especially when the visa is awaiting renewal in the near future, make sure to carry all the relevant documents required for hassle-free visa stamping to reenter the US.