USCIS Considering Retroactive Relief for Employers Impacted by Simeio

By Roy Maurer Jun 9, 2015
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The developments from a recent ruling that a change in an H-1B employee’s work location outside of his or her metropolitan statistical area constitutes a material change and requires the employer to file an amended H-1B petition are still unfolding, according to government officials.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Leon Rodriguez told a group of immigration and HR professionals that the agency understands that the Aug. 19, 2015, deadline to file potentially thousands of amended petitions “is a problem” and employers may soon get relief.

Rodriguez told attendees of the Council for Global Immigration’s 2015 Symposium June 9, 2015, in Washington, D.C., that the agency is considering issuing a statement “very soon” that employers will only have to abide by the Matter of Simeio Solutions decision going forward and not retroactively. The most recent guidance from USCIS had stated that amended H-1B petitions for workers who had changed their work locations must be filed by the deadline or employers would be in violation.

Rodriguez added that USCIS is “working to build real protection, so that those of you who have made changes in relying on inconsistent [USCIS] pronouncements will have an adequate level of protection and comfort to move forward without necessarily needing to make” an amended filing. He also said that guidance related to the matter would be sharpened and intimated that the deadline may be extended.

USCIS 2015 Agenda

Business immigration elements contained in President Barack Obama’s November 2014 executive action will be the agency’s focus for the next couple of years, Rodriguez said. “We will have a full regulatory agenda with respect to business immigration.”

Some of those agenda items include:

  • Creating “a reliable immigration stream” for entrepreneurs with U.S. investor financing involved in projects of “significant public interest” by granting parole status.
  • Expanding use of the national interest waiver for “highly productive” noncitizens with advanced degrees or exceptional ability to seek green cards without employer sponsorship. “The national interest waiver has been woefully underutilized,” Rodriguez said.
  • Working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on expanding the Optional Practical Training program for foreign students and graduates from U.S. universities, specifically in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Rodriguez also mentioned that premium processing for H-1B filings will be reinstated soon. Premium processing service for all H-1B extension petitions have been suspended until July 27, 2015, to allow the agency to deal with the expected deluge of filings for H-4 employment authorization documents. Rodriguez said that the agency is not seeing the expected flow of 179,000 H-4 petitions come in yet, and will re-evaluate the duration of the premium processing suspension.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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