U.S. Tech Firms File Lawsuit Against Tighter H-1B Visa Rules

The firms have sued the USCIS, saying that the new H-1B requirements will “choke out” their work.


Several technology staffing firms sued the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on May 1 over a policy memo they claim could put bigger restrictions on companies that outsource workers who have H-1B visas, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Saying that the visa program could become unusable for them, the companies seek a temporary restraining order obstructing the enforcement of the memo.

“Congress has consistently shown the public policy is to increase access to IT professionals, and not increase burdens on U.S. companies to retain this resource,” the lawsuit filed in a federal district court in New Jersey stated, the Mercury News reported.

The policy memo, which was issued by the USCIS in February with immediate effect, puts tighter requirements on firms outsourcing employees. The memo states that subcontracting firms will have to sketch out specific work requirements for the H-1B holder. They will have to present proof that the visa holder will be doing a specialty occupation and will also have to show that the employee will have the same contract for the duration of the H-1B visa.

In the lawsuit, two companies as well as a consortium stated that the USCIS did not have the authority required to make the changes in the rules and impose H-1B restrictions. The lawsuit claims that the overreach is in violation of the U.S. Administrative Procedures Act, and says that the Labor Department should fix who would be counted as an “employer” as per the H-1B program.

The groups that have filed the lawsuit include the Small and Medium Enterprises Consortium, NAM Info, and Derex Technologies, all of which have offices in India and New Jersey. Derex also has facilities in San Jose and Canada.

Claiming that the new H-1B requirements will “choke out” their work by rejecting them H-1B visas and visa extensions, the lawsuit said that “without sufficient employees to meet their clients’ needs, Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm to reputation and ability to compete.”

These companies see the memo as an existential threat, Jonathan Wasden, the lead attorney for the group, was quoted as saying by San Francisco Chronicle. “They see that this policy has the really real likelihood of ending their business model—it is do or die,” Wasden said.

USCIS, however, said that the memo is another measure taken to protect American jobs, as per the report. The immigration agency did not comment on the lawsuit.

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