A federal court judge in Washington DC on Tuesday, March 10, has ruled that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can't make employers applying for visas list all the work a recipient would do.
The ruling struck down key Trump administration memos and decisions behind the increasing denial of H-1B visas. These memos had sent up the rate of denial of H-1Bs jumped from 2% in 2015 to 30% for some companies, due to these memos according to an analysis of government data by an independent body.
The memos were used by the USCIS to deter companies from recruiting foreign workers on H-1B visas for third-party work or outsourced operations. Employers had to produce contract details for which the H-1B had been petitioned.
The agency will now have to provide reasons for rejecting an H-1B petition.
"A decision like this has been long overdue, we finally have the judicial system agreeing with the employers that USCIS has been out of bounds for a long time," Hindustan Times quoted Amar Varada, president of ITServe, an association of more than 1,200 IT solutions and services organization, whose challenge led to the Tuesday ruling, as saying.
A 2018 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration policy that required companies applying for H-1B visas for workers who will be placed at other firms to prove they have "specific and non-speculative qualifying assignments in a speciality occupation for the beneficiary for the entire time requested on the petition" was declared invalid by Judge Rosemary Collyer.
Annually, the United States issues 85,000 H-1B visas to only highly skilled foreign workers on petitions from US companies. This is done to make up for a shortage of locally available hands.
"The (new) ruling applies to all companies. However, its largest impact will be felt by companies that need to send an H-1B visa holder to a customer's site, because it was in those cases that new USCIS policies were being used to either deny an H-1B petition or approve it for only a short period of time," Stuart Anderson, executive director of The National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), was quoted as saying.
Trump administration's "Buy American, Hire American" policy is responsible for the increasing number of denials for initial applications for H-1B visas, the number of renewal applications, however, has gone up.
According to NFAP, an independent body which closely tracks immigration issues, the denial rates have generally risen from 6% in 2015 to 21% in 2019 for new petitions; and from 3% to 12% for continuing employment or renewals.
The agency also reported that the denial rate for new employment had gone up to 30% in 2019 for IT services and consulting companies in comparison to between 2% and 7% for technology product companies such as Apple.