U.S. employers looking to utilize the H-1B visa in order to employ foreign professionals in specialty occupations have faced a highly unpredictable and ever changing adjudication process. The current administration ordered a full review of the H-1B visa program, which is the largest temporary employment visa program in the United States. This review has led to changes with respect to the adjudication process and how the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles applications.
Showing there will be work for the 3 year duration of the visa
Employers seeking to sponsor prospective employees via the H-1B visa program are being asked to provide new work assurances, according to a report from Bloomberg Law. The USCIS is reportedly requiring sponsoring companies to show that they will have work available for the beneficiary throughout the three-year validity of the visa.
The USCIS is requesting statements of work, vendor agreements, and a list of specific projects and itineraries for the work, Bloomberg says. The tech, health care, accounting and pharmaceutical industries are all feeling the impact of this new policy. These new requirements have resulted in increasingly slow processing times; and have also resulted in the USCIS approving certain H-1B visas for shorter time periods than the statutory three years.
An increase in demand for H-1B visas
Demand for H-1B visas throughout much of this decade has increased significantly, with companies using the category to retain essential foreign national workers. Applications for H-1B visas have hit the cap within a week of the government opening the application process.
New York is among the states with the highest number of H-1B applications, with Texas, New Jersey, Illinois and California closely following.
What will happen with the H-1B visa program in the years to come is unclear. Changes to the application process require the involvement of competent and experienced counsel to ensure a successful outcome.