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What do changes in the USCIS mean to your business?

Since early 2017, the current administration has made things harder for potential immigrants and the people looking to hire them. Recent changes and proposals may complicate things even more.

The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services have announced several big changes in recent months, including the appointment of a new acting head. While the ramifications of that appointment are still unclear, employers and potential immigrants will want to note the recent list of DHS regulatory changes.

Department of Homeland Security regulatory changes

Near the end of May, the DHS published its Spring 2019 Agency Rule List. This includes a few new and proposed changes for employment visas:

  • H-1B: The USCIS plans to write tighter definitions for “specialty occupation,” “employment” and “employer-employee relationship.” It also plans to charge employers a fee to enter applicants in the electronic cap lottery.
  • H-4: The spouses of H-1B visa holders are not immune from the administration’s desire to crackdown on immigration. The USCIS has given notice that it intends to wind down the H-4 visa.
  • H-2B: While the USCIS tightens other immigration policies, it intends to issue 15,000 extra H-2B visas through the end of 2019. It says this increase is for 2019 only and won’t affect future years. The USCIS also aims to modernize the recruitment process and will no longer need print newspaper ads.
  • F-1: Students with F-1 visas, and certain other immigrants, may see new time limits placed on their stays. The maximum time limits have not yet been set, but the USCIS wants to move away from the undefined “duration of status.”

Employers looking to hire foreign workers will want to remember that these changes are coming after the USCIS has already increased its ons. Those denials appear to suggest a new standard of proof that goes beyond the basic requirements of the law, and employers might expect stricter standards for the new policies as well.

An increased need to go above and beyond existing standards

With all its forms and unwritten standards for their completion, immigration law is already complex. The new fees, standards and processes will soon make it even more important to get your petition right the first time around.

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