News » Top Stories » USCIS increases scrutiny on H-1B, L-1 visa extensions

USCIS increases scrutiny on H-1B, L-1 visa extensions

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According to the latest rule, all petitions using Form I-29 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, which includes H-1B and L-1 visas, will bear the impact.

Photograph of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on Monday said the agency will now scrutinize at the same level both initial petitions and extension requests for some nonimmigrant visa categories. In other words, now onwards the extension requests will not get any leniency considering that they were approved earlier.

“The guidance applies to nearly all nonimmigrant classifications filed using Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker,” a statement from the agency said.  The Form I-129 is used for a nonimmigrant worker to come to the United States temporarily for work or training, for instance, visa categories including H-1B and L-1.

“USCIS officers are at the front lines of the administration’s efforts to enhance the integrity of the immigration system,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “This updated guidance provides clear direction to help advance policies that protect the interests of U.S. workers.”

Underscoring the need for a thorough scrutiny the statement explained: “As before, adjudicators must thoroughly review the petition and supporting evidence to determine eligibility for the benefit sought. The updated guidance instructs officers to apply the same level of scrutiny when reviewing nonimmigrant visa extension requests even where the petitioner, beneficiary and underlying facts are unchanged from a previously approved petition.”

It said the adjudicators might come to the same decision but they will not accept the previous approvals without investigation “as the burden of proof to establish eligibility for an immigration benefit always lies with the petitioner.”

“The previous policy instructed officers to give deference to the findings of a previously approved petition, as long as the key elements were unchanged and there was no evidence of a material error or fraud related to the prior determination. The updated policy guidance rescinds the previous policy,” the statement said.

As per the law, the onus to establish eligibility for the visa petition extension will be on the petitioner even if USCIS has previously approved a petition.

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