I just completed a Facebook Live video to discuss the impact of the new memo from USCIS about “an entry-level computer programmer position would not generally qualify as a position in a specialty occupation making it ineligible for H-1B Visa”.
We are going to discuss
three four latest news here:
- Computer Programmer Job Title vs H1B Visa Approvals
- New H1B Visa Fraud prevention measures
- Press Release from Justice Department
- Press Release from Department of labor (DOL)
The biggest of all three is the USCIS memo about Computer Programmer job title. I’m sure you want to know my H1B Visa 2018 Application? Let’s start with that first.
Computer Programmer vs H1B Visa
Let’s look at some real data. Ok?
Following shows the Companies and Wage Rate for some recent LCA applications for the job title “Computer Programmer”.
In FY 2016, little over 20,000 Labor Condition Applications were submitted for H1B Visa Applications.
So, far in FY 2017, over 9000 LCA were filed for “Computer Programmer” title.
Quick scan of the Salary, shows that the majority of openings are paying around $60,000 per year.
We don’t know how many of this H1B Visa applications were actually approved by USCIS.
As per new Memo, USCIS states that the H1B Visa application for the job title Computer Programmer may not qualify as speciality occupation in the new memo:
[Paraphrasing] Also, USCIS stated that this is not new policy and they are asking all USCIS employees to follow what was followed by NSC service center in the past. Also, USCIS wants the employer to prove if this job title falls under Specialty Occupation.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is H1B program completely killed?
Yes, that was one actual question from a concerned person. No, this memo is not to eliminate the H1B program. H1B program can’t be eliminated by a Memo. It’s requires a new Bill.
2. I applied for H1B as Software Engineer. Does this affect me?
Memo specifically states “Computer Programmer”, not other job titles. So, I would guess, you are good to go. In order to understand why only “computer programmer” is impacted, you would have to understand how H1B visa job titles relate to DOL’s job code. And the actual memo has finer details. Some assumed that “Computer Programmer” equates to all programming jobs. I think that is incorrect assumption.
3. Does this apply to existing employees with Computer Programmer title?
I think you should ask the same to your Immigration Attorney. I think you are sage, but I’m not sure. Because of Site Visits by USCIS, would they target Computer Programmer employees? I don’t know. Sorry!
H1B Visa Fraud and Site Visits
In an another press release, USCIS said they are ramping up the scrutiny to prevent H1B Visa Fraud and abuses. Here’s 3 options listed by USCIS:
- Cases where USCIS cannot validate the employer’s basic business information through commercially available data;
- H-1B-dependent employers (those who have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to U.S. workers, as defined by statute); and
- Employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work off-site at another company or organization’s location.
Site visits have been happening for a while. I discussed that in the Facebook Live Video.
DOJ – Don’t Discriminate Against US Workers
The Justice Department cautioned employers petitioning for H-1B visas not to discriminate against U.S. workers. The warning came as the federal government began accepting employers’ H-1B visa petitions for the next fiscal year. The H-1B visa program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations such as science and information technology.
To report H1B Visa Abuses:
- Call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688
- call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155
- Sign up for a free webinar; email IER@usdoj.gov(link sends e-mail)
DOL – Press Release
DOL also posted a press release about plans to protect American workers from Discrimination.
- Rigorously use all of its existing authority to initiate investigations of H-1B program violators. This effort to protect U.S. workers will also involve greater coordination with other federal agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security and Justice for additional investigation and, if necessary, prosecution.
- Consider changes to the Labor Condition Application for future application cycles. The Labor Condition Application, which is a required part of the H-1B visa application process, may be updated to provide greater transparency for agency personnel, U.S. workers and the general public.
- Continue to engage stakeholders on how the program might be improved to provide greater protections for U.S. workers, under existing authorities or through legislative changes.
Potential Impact of This Memo and Site Visits:
I think this enforcement approach is expected after Trump won the election and Senator Jeff Session is appointed as Attorney General. I have written about H1B Visa abuse by consultants with padded resume and proxy interviews. H1B enforcement is difficult, considering the resources required. Plus, employers are not equipped to deal with identifying the fraudulent resumes and candidates. We have to watch how these measures will end H1B Visa abuses.
I have following questions (and probably you should too):
- Now, you would have to question, why “Computer Programmer” was singled out?
- Did USCIS think most companies that apply for H1B for this title pay less?
- Why was this published on Mar 31, 2017 when Attorneys would have submitted all the H1B visa application?
- Would USCIS send RFE or deny all applications with the title?
These are pending questions for which I don’t know the answer.
One thing is for sure, things are getting tight. Real tight when it comes to H1B Visa.
- Premium Processing Suspension for upto 6 months
- More Scrutiny for H1B Visa Abuses
- Focused Site Visits
I think, recent development places more stress on the importance of finding a Full-time job (notvia consultancy), but for some it’s going to be really difficult.
See the last 3 posts in F1 Visa STEM OPT Facebook Group
It’s going to take a while for this to change and it will based on how things are looking for future of High Skilled Workers.
Summary and Action Items:
- If your H1B visa 2018 application was filed with “Computer Programmer” as the title, then talk to your Attorney or employer and have them explain the options to you, on how they are going to prove your title will fall under specialty occupation.
- Ask your attorney to provide instructions to your employer on how to deal with USCIS site visits.
- Watch the Facebook Live Video Discussion on this Topic Here >>
Question to You
Agree or Disagree: Do you think it’s good move to crack down on H1B Visa Abuses?