The Customs and Immigration Service has been tightening up the flow of legal immigration. This from Bernard Wolfsdorf, past national president of the 14,000-member American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Joseph Barnett, both of Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP:
“USCIS is now issuing lengthy detailed requests for evidence contesting every issue and requiring unreasonable quantities of proof in regard to any application for an immigrant or non-immigrant visa or adjustment of status.
“USCIS is adjudicating nonimmigrant visa applications with the goal to “create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States, and to protect their economic interests.” Immigration petitions should include an argument on how the issuance of a visa or other immigration benefit promotes these policy goals.”
The Wall Street Journal adds, “H-1B applications for positions at the lowest pay level are getting particular scrutiny, with the government questioning whether the foreigner holds required specialized skills, according to several immigration attorneys. A directive from the agency specifically questions whether a computer programmer is a specialty occupation that qualifies for the visa. Many of these applications are being denied, attorneys say.”
The WSJ cites the following other changes in administrative practice:
*Eliminate a provision that spouses of H-1B workers have the right to work.
*Kill the Optional Practical Training program, which allows foreign graduates from U.S. colleges in science and technology an extra two years of work authorization, giving them time to win an H-1B visa.
*USCIS directed last month that adjudicators no longer pay “deference” to past determinations for renewal applications. This means an applicant’s past approval won’t carry any weight if he or she applies for a renewal.
*The agency is conducting more applicant interviews, which critics say slows the system. The agency spokesman said this process will ramp up over several years and is needed to detect fraud and make accurate decisions.
*In the spring, the agency suspended premium processing, which allowed for fast-track consideration to those who paid an extra fee. This option wasn’t resumed until October, meaning many workers who qualified for a coveted H-1B visa had to wait months for a decision.