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Revamped Website Welcome but Not Harsher H-1 Processing!

October 2009
Revamped Website Welcome but Not Harsher H-1 Processing!

We continue awaiting positive changes at USCIS based on a new, more immigrant-friendly administration. However, recent positive changes have been cosmetic, while recent negative changes have been worrisome.

On June 25th President Obama promised that within 90 days USCIS would launch a vastly improved website. On September 22th, that new website went live. It is certainly true that the previous website design was clunky, hard-to-navigate, and decidedly not user-friendly. The improved design of USCIS.gov purports to follow four core principles:

While we appreciate the improved design, immigrants would benefit much more from a fairer and more balanced immigration policy. The latest issue of concern is the recent spate of H1 denials and requests for evidence being received by employers and immigration lawyers. As most readers are aware, the H1B is the nonimmigrant specialty occupation status perhaps most popular amongst those of the Indian subcontinent—it encompasses information technology workers, specialized managers, physician residents, etc. The main problem seems to be that USCIS is targeting smaller companies that are filing H1B petitions.

An internal USCIS worksheet for H1B adjudication, which was sent unintentionally to an attorney and later posted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, shows that among the present fraud indicators which USCIS adjudicators are using to take a hard look at cases are the following:

These requirements are not supported by immigration law or regulations, and it is certainly unfair to hold that smaller companies do not need specialized workers. In addition, the "marginal companies" such as drycleaners, gas stations, residential care facilities, convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, dental offices, etc. cited as suspect by USCIS for lacking the organizational complexity required to support positions on a full-time basis cannot be so generalized as there are many large dental offices, parking lot corporations, or small chain liquor stores, dry cleaners, gas stations, convenience stores, etc., which require professionals in specialized capacities. Although there has been a problem with H1 fraud in recent years, USCIS needs to compile more accurate fraud indicators, based on reliable data and evidence, rather than making sweeping generalizations about US businesses and their needs.

Most important, USCIS needs to devote itself to serving the customers that pay millions in fees every year. While we applaud small improvements to the website and case status systems, we still hope to see a fair, balanced and sensible immigration policy emerge over the next few years.

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