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Amended H-1B Petition Required for Changes in Employment Location

In an April 9, 2015, precedent decision, the Administrative Appeals Office (“AAO”) affirmed the California Service Center’s decision to revoke an H-1B petitioner’s approved petition for failure to file an amendment to report a change in the beneficiary’s employment location. See Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC, 26 I&N Dec. 542 (AAO 2015). The California Service Center is a regional processing center of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The decision means that employers are required to file a certified LCA, as well as an amended H-1B petition, prior to moving an employee to a new work location, which represents a departure from prior USCIS guidance.

AAO Decision Clarifies Requirement to File Amended H-1B Petitions for Worksite Changes

On April 9, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a precedential decision concerning an employer’s obligation to file an amended H-1B petition in certain scenarios involving a change in worksite. The decision by the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO)—USCIS’s administrative review body—is the culmination of a shift in agency policy on this matter.

New Precedent Decision Revoking an Approved H-1B Work Visa Petition Poses Dire Consequences for the Consulting Industry

Executive Summary: On April 9, 2015, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) issued a precedent decision affirming the California Service Center (CSC) Director's revocation of an H-1B nonimmigrant visa approval issued to an IT services provider, Simeio Solutions, LLC (Simeio).

Record Number of H-1B Applications Emphasizes Importance of Considering Alternatives for Applicants Not Selected in Lottery

USCIS has announced that it received nearly 233,000 H-1B applications during the first week of April, nearly three times the available quota. This means that nearly two-thirds of all applications submitted to the agency will be rejected and applicants will want to consider alternative avenues to work authorization. The agency has already begun to issue receipts for cases selected through the lottery.

IS YOUR H-1B WORKER MOVING ELSEWHERE? You may have to file an amended H-1B Petition

The Administrative Appeals Office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a significant decision last week that overruled prior USCIS practice. In Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC, the AAO ruled that an employer must file an amended H-1B Petition where the H-1B worker’s place of employment changes to an area not covered by the Labor Condition Application, which is part of the H-1B Petition filing. As a result of the employer’s failure to file an amended Petition, the approved Petition was revoked, terminating the H-1B worker’s right to work for the employer and to stay in the country.

USCIS Receives Record Number of H-1B Work Visa Requests

On April 13, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) released the H-1B “cap” count, indicating that during the filing period it had received nearly 233,000 petitions for H-1B work visas. This means that U.S. employers filed approximately 233,000 petitions during the five-day window of opportunity that opened on April 1 and closed on April 7, 2015.

Federal Judge Rejects U.S. Department of Justice Request to Stay Injunction on Executive Immigration Action

As we previously reported, on November 20, 2014, the White House announced an “Immigration Accountability Executive Action” plan that would, among other relief, allow undocumented immigrants to apply to remain in the country legally and secure work authorization temporarily. (Read our report “What the President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Action Plan Means for Employers”).

Employers’ Demand for H-1B Visas Quickly Exceeds USCIS Cap . . . Again

As in recent years, the strong demand for H-1B visas for scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and other foreign workers in so-called “specialty occupations” again led employers in the United States to file petitions in such great quantity that they quickly exceeded the number available under the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) annual cap. Each year, beginning on April 1, USCIS accepts petitions for up to 65,000 H-1B visas plus an additional 20,000 reserved for those who possess an advanced degree, interpreted as a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. college or university. On April 7, 2015, USCIS announced that it had reached its cap for fiscal year (FY) 2016 for both of those categories. This is the third year that the cap has been reached within the very first week following the initial April 1st filing date.

Alternatives to the H-1B Visa: A New L-1B Adjudication Standard?

As expected, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has met the FY2016 H-1B cap during the first week of the new filing season. Over the next few weeks, many employers who filed H-1B petitions will learn, to their frustration, that their applications were not selected through the lottery. Inevitably, many employers interested in retaining valuable talent seeking to move to the United States will ask “Are there alternatives to the H-1B?”

L-1B Denial Rates on the Rise Again: USCIS Proposes New Adjudication Standards in Response

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) recently released statistics related to L-1B denial rates for fiscal year 2014, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP). (Click here for NFAP’s report). The denial rate reached an all-time high of 35% in 2014. This is up dramatically from the denial rate in 2006 which was a mere 6%. Most disconcerting about this news is that regulations that provide for L-1B adjudication standards remain unchanged despite the spike in denial rates. Although USCIS has acknowledged the sharp increase in the denial rate, it has offered no justification for it and has not provided employers with any substantive guidance in preparing L-1B visa petitions.