Latest USCIS Announcements Suggest Leniency
By: Rachel Horner
USCIS has recently made several announcements that suggest the possibility of more relaxed H-1B policies in the future, contrary to the organization’s attempts at restrictions under the previous presidential administration.
First, it was announced that USCIS will be extending their flexibilities originally posted on March 30, 2020. These conditions have been renewed several times since, meaning that USCIS will potentially continue to uphold these measures for as long as COVID-19 is a pressing issue.
The initial decision made by USCIS was to grant a 60-day extension for applicants responding to agency requests. This list includes:
- Requests for Evidence;
- Notices of Intent to Deny;
- Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
- Notices of Intent to Revoke;
- Notices of Intent to Rescind;
- Notices of Intent to Terminate regional centers;
- Motions to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant;
- Filing date requirements for Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA)* ; or
- Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.*
Agency requests issued between March 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 are eligible for the extension.
Wage Level Adjustments
In addition, USCIS also sent out an email stating the “H-1B Final Selection Rule” has been pushed from March 9th, 2021 to December 31st, 2021. In effect, the delay will provide more time to develop a new system, train new staff, and give applicants an opportunity to prepare for modifications. Despite the possibility the delay is an aftereffect of President Biden’s regulatory freeze request, which paused the enactment of any legislation from the final weeks of the Trump Administration, it will, nonetheless, be advantageous for those filing this upcoming CAP season.
Specialty Occupation Definition
Lastly, in the aftermath of the court’s verdict in favor of Innova Solutions late last year, USCIS will no longer advise its adjudicating officers to deny Computer Programmer positions as specialty occupations. Ambiguous language surrounding “specialty occupation” and its requirements has been the linchpin of other lawsuits filed against USCIS this past year. Thus, this announcement bodes well for tech companies across the US, who, in the past year, saw many of their prospects for hiring or transferring qualified talent from abroad fail to come to fruition.
We can only hope that President Biden will continue to lift restrictive immigration policies and replace them with more progressive guidelines. While his early executive actions on immigration have focused on undoing child-parent separation practices at the US-Mexico border and protecting DACA, Biden has indicated that business immigration reform is a priority as well. To this end, he has pushed to clear employment visa backlogs, improve the green card process, and exempt certain advanced STEM degree holders from any visa CAP. Further, his plans to utilize business immigration as a catalyst for economic growth, particularly in less industrious areas of the country, renders a strikingly different vision than his predecessor’s, and has already received praise from notable tech company leaders.
Check back for more updates on the latest USCIS and business immigration policies.
*if the form was filed up to 60 days from the decision issued