The Trump administration is working on proposals to streamline the H-1B visa procedure, the most sought after by Indian IT professionals, to focus on attracting the best and the brightest foreign talents, according to a top federal agency official.
The proposed regulation also aims to intensify efforts to crackdown on H-1B visa fraud, said Francis Cissna, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director in a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is working on two proposed regulations to improve the H-1B programme. The first regulation proposes to establish an electronic registration programme for petitions subject to numerical limitations for the H-1B non-immigrant classification.
“This rule is intended to allow USCIS to more efficiently manage the intake and lottery process for these H-1B petitions,” said Cissna.
The later is dated April 4, the content of which was first reported yesterday by Axios news website.
“The second regulation will propose to revise the definition of specialty occupation, so as to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme and to revise the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to better protect US workers and wages,” Cissna said.
In addition, Department of Homeland Security will propose additional requirements designed to ensure employers pay appropriate wages to H-1B visa holders, it said. The USCIS is also drafting a proposed rule to remove the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), as announced in the regulatory agenda. Due to the court order which invalidated the IER delay rule, the International Entrepreneur Final Rule is currently in effect.
“We have not approved any parole requests under the International Entrepreneur Final Rule at this time,” it said.
Briefing the Senator on its efforts to prevent fraud in H-1B, Cissna said USCIS now has a dedicated email addresses to make it easier for the public to report suspected fraud and abuse in the H-1B and H-2B programmes. Other steps that the USCIS has previously announced include establishing a more targeted approach in our H-1B employer site visit programme.
“We initiated these targeted site visits to help us determine, among other things, whether H-1B-dependent employers are actually paying their workers the statutorily required salary to qualify for an exemption from recruitment attestation requirements,” it said.
The USCIS is also expanding its administrative site visit programme to include L-1B petitions.
“We are initially focusing on employers petitioning for L-1B specialised knowledge workers who will primarily work offsite at another company or organization’s location to ensure that they are complying with the requirements from the L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2004. These requirements were meant to help prevent United States workers from being displaced by foreign workers,” the USCIS said.
Cissna said it also published a policy memorandum that instructs officers to apply the same level of scrutiny to both initial petitions and extension requests for non-immigrant visa categories. The guidance applies to all non-immigrant classifications filed using Form r-129, Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker.
The previous policy instructed officers to give deference to the findings of a previously approved petition, as long as the key elements were unchanged and there was no evidence of a material error or fraud related to the prior determination.
“The updated policy guidance rescinds the previous policy. Under the law, the burden of proof in establishing eligibility for the visa petition extension is on the petitioner, regardless of whether users previously approved a petition,” it said.