In a Nov. 1 letter to the directors and legal counsel of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Homeland Security, industry coalition Compete America questions the USCIS’ interpretations of the statute under which it is tasked with adjudicating H-1B visa applications. The coalition requests legal counsel to review the regulations and processes ahead of the fiscal 2020 H-1B period.
“The agency’s current approach to H-1B adjudications cannot be anticipated by either the statutory or regulatory text,” Compete America says, “leaving employers with a disruptive lack of clarity about the agency’s practices, procedures, and policies.”
Compete America counts 41 members, including Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. Its members have reported a “sharp increase” notices of intent to revoke as well as those to deny H-1B petitions, a shift the letter says is “perplexing to our coalition’s members, especially because the agency’s changes in approach were unannounced and unexplained and are not previewed in the regulations governing a qualifying H-1B specialty occupation that have been in effect since 1991.”
The group says the agency’s H-1B adjudications reflect interpretations that are beyond the standards outlined by Congress. Specifically, the agency is:
- inserting salary requirements as an unstated prerequisite;
- going beyond the statute’s prerequisites for a “specific specialty” of study; and
- going beyond the statute’s prerequisites for a “usual requirement” of a degree.
The coalition asks that DHS and USCIS legal officers to review the agency’s current H-1B adjudications and practices, and “provide any clarification needed either internally or with the regulated community” prior to the 2020 application process begins.
In October, an association representing IT services organizations, ITServe Alliance, filed a lawsuit against USCIS claiming the agency is overstepping its authority in limiting the duration of H-1B visas.