Thursday, February 18, 2010

CIS teleconference today on recent H-1B memo

As noted yesterday, CIS held a "collaboration session" on the recent H-1B "employer-employee relationship" memo. Not surprisingly, the session was very well attended, with 500-600 people listening by phone, and another 40-50 attending in person. The session was generally not in a question and answer format, more a forum for each side to air opinions and comments.

CIS began by noting that the memo had been in the works for years.  The goal was to clarify the requirements and make it easier for employers and immigration lawyers to understand the standards.

Many of the public comments that followed CIS's opening statements were critical of the memo and urged CIS to revoke it.  The comments, primarily from attorneys but also from one Senator and some business-owners, objected to the memo on various grounds, mainly
  1. that it was creating new law in violation of the required rule-making procedures. Some businesspeople told of the US workers that had been laid off because their jobs would have supported H-1B workers that couldn't get hired;
  2. that reducing the flow of H-1B workers into the US would stifle the American economy and encourage outsourcing;
  3. that the memo as written would affect more than just the "job-shops" that CIS seemed to target., For example, a few attorneys remarked that this memo would prevent most doctors from getting H-1B status because very few doctors are employed directly by the hospital where they work. CIS seemed to acknowledge that they had not thought of this consequence;
  4. that it violated existing H-1B regulations;
  5. that it was having a domino effect, already causing problems for H-1B holders entering at US airports, and had even been the cause of one L-1 petition denial. CIS stated that it had no authority over CBP actions at the airport and that  the memo was not intended to effect anything other than H-1B petition decisions at CIS Service Centers.

Praise for the memo
Some speakers praised the memo. though their comments were vastly outnumbered by the memo's criticisms. Those in favor of the memo thanked CIS for restricting H-1B numbers at a time that many US workers were unemployed. One particularly vehement opponent of the H-1B program railed against Indian workers in particular and was cut off when her comments became particularly unhelpful and harsh.


In the end, CIS agreed to consider all the comments and have a subsequent call on the topic. It noted that people can sign up for notice of this and other CIS events on their Public Engagement web page here.

P.S. I will not accept anonymous comments that criticize my firm, foreign nationals, US immigration policy, etc.  If you want these comments posted, please say who you are, like I do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

CIS holds teleconference tomorrow on new H-1B memo.

USCIS is inviting people to attend a meeting tomorrow to discuss the implementation of the recent memo on determining if a valid employer-employee relationship exists.People can attend in person or by phone. For more information, including how to attend, see here and here. I will be attending the meeting and will blog about the call afterwards.