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May 2015


H-1B Worksite Changes: Can Employers Expect Relief Before August 19th Deadline?







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Mahsa Aliaskari



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Jeffrey S. Bell

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Doreen D. Dodson


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Dawn M. Lurie


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As H-1B employers scramble to create a plan of action to ensure compliance with new guidelines and interpretations surrounding H-1B workers and changes in worksite, industry leaders are calling for more temperate policy changes. On June 9th, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Leon Rodriguez noted in a speech that the Agency knows the August 19, 2015 deadline is “a problem” and that the agency was considering relief. No respite had come by June 30th, when nine business groups urged USCIS to downgrade the recent Simeio decision to a non-precedent decision. The Simeio decision was the catalyst for the USCIS policy guidance regarding H-1B work site changes and H-1B amendment filings to take effect retroactively.

With an August 19 deadline quickly approaching for the filing of amended H-1B petitions, all eyes are on Director Rodriguez, as a potential shift in the agency’s policy will significantly impact budget and resources spent on H-1B compliance in the remaining weeks of summer. While the Simeio decision requires the filing of amended H-1B petitions whenever an H-1B worker changes worksites to a location not included in the existing H-1B approval, the decision did not specify whether H-1B employers who may have not followed this protocol in the past should be required to immediately file amendments to rectify the “violation”. USCIS guidance issued on May 21st however does mandate amendments retroactively.

Given the lively feedback from the private immigration bar and H-1B employers, USCIS seems to be internally reconsidering the practical implications and burdens of the timing and retroactive application. With the August 19 deadline looming over the business community, we hope to see the clarification on retroactive application before month’s end, and will report back on any further updates to process changes.

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