Finally, USCIS Cracking Down on Nonimmigrant Work Visas!

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

April 2, 2015

Tightening the standards for nonimmigrant worker visa approval and curbing the inherent abuse is long overdue. Happily, a recent analysis shows that approvals at least in some visa categories are in decline.

According to a National Foundation for American Progress report released earlier this month and based on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data, L-1B denials for skilled employees hit an historic 35 percent high in fiscal year 2014. Despite no regulatory changes, a five-fold increase has occurred since 2006 when 6 percent were rejected. Overseas employees already working within the U.S. and seeking visa renewals have also been denied at historically high rates, 41 percent in FY 2014.

L 1 Visa Denial Rate
L-1 visa requests are scrutinized more closely.

The L-1B visa allows employers to transfer professional employees with specialized knowledge from, for example, an affiliated office in Hong Kong to the U.S. Naturally, employers claim that their transfers have specialized knowledge since that’s key to approval.

On the one hand, corporations are more globalized than ever, and certainly may need to move employees around the globe for legitimate business reasons – competitiveness, cross-training talent and understanding business practices across markets.

The other side of the coin is that for an unscrupulous employer the L-1B visa provides a legal method of transferring an international worker to the U.S. whether or not he’s truly specialized, and denies a qualified American from having the chance to apply.

Since spouses of L-1Bs are also work authorized on an L-2 visa, an international transfer represents not one but possibly two lost job opportunities for Americans. Unmarried children under age 21 are also included as L-2s which creates more population growth and greater school overcrowding.

Predictably, employers are whining. They’re unhappy about denied renewals even though visas have expiration dates and their transfers have been in the U.S. for the prescribed three years. Renewals aren’t automatic.

Employers are also unhappy about the increasing numbers of USCIS Requests for Evidence documents to verify information submitted on petitions that they claim slow down the transfer process, are expensive and result in lost business.

One way to avoid the L-1B aggravation employers insist is so cumbersome is to hire American. In today’s depressed job market, there are no openings for three out of five job seekers. Plenty of Americans are available to work regardless of the job description.

Editor’s Note: Well, we may have spoken too soon with “good” news. After this post was submitted, we read that by way of a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy memorandum, “the Obama Administration is unilaterally watering down the eligibility requirements for the L-1B nonimmigrant visa program.”

The bottom line: more foreign workers to flood the labor market and further depress wages! Read the report here.

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