August 16, 2019
The U.S. Department of Labor has begun publishing the names of companies where H-1B visa holders are working, regardless of whether they are employed by another company providing consulting or staffing services.
The move is part of the Trump administration’s longstanding pressure to reduce use of the H-1B visa. Since 2017, approval rates have steadily fallen while USCIS scrutiny of H-1B visa applications has increased via "requests for information," where the visa applicant and sponsor company must provide more documentation than is typically required in order to substantiate claims made in the application.
The new disclosure may create liability "if somebody wants to bring a lawsuit alleging that the secondary employer is discriminating against U.S. hires in this industry," according to Mary Pivec of immigration law firm Pivec & Associates. At this point, a number of such lawsuits have been filed against certain consulting firms, though none have been successful.
Meanwhile, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) still has not indicated whether it intends to mandate use of a new electronic filing system for the H-1B cap filing season beginning on April 1, 2020. Although the rule requiring the new system took effect on April 1, 2019, USCIS suspended the requirement until further notice.
HR Policy joined a letter to USCIS requesting:
Looking ahead: It remains to be seen whether policymakers who champion “hire American” policies will use the data to apply pressure to companies with H1-B workers. However, we can expect continued pressure on the visa program from the Trump administration.