USCIS announces additional restrictions on certain H-1B petitions

USCIS announces additional restrictions on certain H-1B petitions

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new policy memorandum on February 22, 2018, that requires U.S. employers filing H-1B petitions for employees at third-party work sites to submit additional documents and evidence. The new restrictions mean H-1B petitioners will now have to show that the H-1B beneficiary has “specific and non-speculative qualifying assignments in a specialty occupation” before USCIS will approve an H-1B petition involving a third party placement.

The USCIS memo states that employers who apply for H-1B visas are required to provide “detailed statements of work or work orders” for employment at third-party sites to verify their relationship with the employee. The assignments must also last for the full duration requested in the H-1B petition. If USCIS concludes that the specified work is to be for less than the typical, maximum three year period, USCIS will approve the H-1B petition only for the exact period documented.

The tighter restrictions reflect a crackdown on third-party contracts and additional scrutiny for H-1B petitioners. USCIS said the policy change is designed to prevent the “benching” of workers, which involves U.S. employers who hire H-1B workers without giving them work or paying them while they await work assignments.

In the past, USCIS did not require the exact location and dates of third-party arrangements. In light of the additional restrictions, it is important for H-1B petitioners who have third party placements for an H-1B workers to carefully meet these additional requirements to avoid either a USCIS Request for Evidence, or petition denial.