The Trump administration is bringing a new level of scrutiny to a temporary work visa popular among technology firms, costing employers more time and money as they seek to bring foreign workers to the United States.
The days of the free lunch for tech companies are over, and they are now being told they have to follow U.S. immigration law like everyone else. That has Silicon Valley elites outraged.
The Mercury News report that from January to August 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sent 85,265 requests for evidence in response to H-1B visa applications, a 45 percent increase compared to the same period a year earlier, agency data show.
Immigration lawyers say these requests — made when an application is missing required documents or the agency determines it needs more proof to decide if a worker is eligible for the visa — could even discourage companies and individuals from seeking an H-1B visa in the first place.
Administration officials say the scrutiny is needed to ensure the integrity of the controversial visa program, which critics say has cost American jobs.
Overall, about 27 percent of all H-1B visa applications USCIS received in the first eight months of 2017 got a request for evidence.
For the same eight-month period of the prior year, under the Obama administration, about 19 percent of all H-1B visa applications USCIS received got a request for evidence. Some applications received in both years may have received more than one request for evidence.
Answering requests for evidence increases the time employers spend on H-1B applications and legal costs for attorneys’ guidance in obtaining and submitting the additional information. This is the kind of thing that was either ignored or swept under the rug in the past.
Some lawyers said they felt like a different standard was being applied, compared to previous years. Applications they expected would get approval before President Trump took office are either being challenged or denied.
Yes, there is a different standard. It’s called following the law.