United States Citizenship & Immigration Services modestly over the weekend released new guidance that computer programmers are no longer considered to be suitable for H-1B visas.
What it means: This straightens with the government focus on keeping the temporary visas for very high-skilled (& higher-paid) professionals whereas encouraging small- and mid-level positions to go to American workers rather. The new administration concerns applications for the lottery for 2018 fiscal year that began Monday.
What comes next: Firms applying for H-1B visas for computer programming jobs will have to present additional evidence proving that the jobs are complicated or specialized & require professional degrees. Entry-level salaries attached to these visa applications will also get more analysis. The difference appears to aim outsourcing companies, who typically hire lower-paid, lower-level computer workers.
Lawsuits possible: Issuing this policy change at the start of the application filing window is moving to bother companies who adopted 17-year-old policy guidance to implement for this year’s visas. Some firms may question the guidance because USCIS didn’t present sufficient notice of the change.
RECENT UPDATE (6:15 pm): A USCIS spokeswoman told the guidance is “not a policy change” & is just refining existing policy for a Nebraska call service center.
- But an immigration attorney following this process said the memo would increase scrutiny for H1-B applicants for the computer programmer job category. The attorney added that most Silicon Valley companies don’t hire entry level programmers, and so the real impact of the change would be felt by offshore companies. “It’s not an unsubstantial development,” he said.
- There is some confusion over the impact of the new guidance. Bloomberg says it would “bring more scrutiny to [applications] for computer programmers doing the simplest jobs.” Endgadget reports a misinterpretation of the rule “caused many to panic, ” but programmers can still qualify for H-1B visas
- Separately, USCIS announced new measures today to rein in abuse of the H-1B program