U.S. employers to DHS: We have a ‘disruptive lack of clarity’ in how DHS decides H-1B petitions

U.S. employers to DHS: We have a ‘disruptive lack of clarity’ in how DHS decides H-1B petitions

A coalition of U.S. employers is taking a stand against the difficulties created by the Trump administration’s crackdown on H-1B visas. On November 1, 2018, Compete America sent the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a letter alleging that USCIS’ inconsistent approach to deciding H-1B petitions was “leaving employers with a disruptive lack of clarity about the agency’s practices, procedures and policies.”

The letter expressed concerns over various legal issues raised by the recent changes in H-1B petition adjudication standards, saying that the USCIS was acting outside the scope of its own regulations. Addressing USCIS Director Francis Cissna and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the letter pointed out three changes to the way H-1B visa petitions are currently being adjudicated.

Compete America noted that employers were experiencing a “dramatic increase” in denials of H-1B petitions or requests for additional information over the past 18 months. There has also been a sharp rise in the issuance of Notices of Intent to Revoke and Notices of Intent to Deny. Compete America is an industry group that represents top American IT companies including Facebook, Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft.

Compete America alleged that H-1B petitions were being denied using improper standards. According to the letter, USCIS is targeting applications for entry-level positions with corresponding wages, saying that such positions are not specialty occupations. The coalition also highlighted repeated H-1B petition denials for positions if there are even some instances where those positions do not require a bachelor’s degree even when a bachelor’s degree is normally a prerequisite for those jobs.

Further, the letter said the agency has denied H-1B visas on the basis that degrees held by foreign workers are not within a specific field of acceptable study for an occupation. Compete America is calling for the DOH to review USCIS’s current approach to deciding H-1B petitions and to provide any necessary clarification.