USCIS rule changes to prevent H-1B work visa fraud

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DACA decision temporary measure until next steps are determined.

Even as President Donald Trump mulls a merit-based immigration system, his immigration agency says it has taken action to prevent fraud in H-1B and other work visas, coveted by Indian professionals.

Trump administration officials have also said that the latest decision to limit DACA is a temporary measure until next steps are determined.

The administration announced Tuesday that it would limit renewals for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) that shields undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation to one year, instead of the usual two, and not accept new applications.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has “implemented rules, policy memorandum, and operational changes that protect the economic interests of US workers and businesses,” a senior official told lawmakers.

These are intended to “prevent abuse and fraud in employment- based visa programs,” USCIS Deputy Director of Policy Joseph Edlow, told a House Judiciary sub-committee Thursday.

Among other things Edlow listed these steps:

• Ensuring the fees that certain H-1B Petitioners must now pay ultimately help to train US workers.

• Clarifying calculation guidelines for the 1-year foreign employment requirement for L-1 petitions in order to “ensure consistent adjudication.”

• Changing the H-1B cap selection process in order to increase the chances of selection for beneficiaries who have earned a master’s degree or higher from a US institution.

• Expanding collaboration with Department of justice to better detect and eliminate fraud by employers.

• Creating a USCIS H-1B and H-2B fraud reporting online tip form.

• Creating an H-1B Employer Data Hub to provide information to the public on employers petitioning for H-1B workers.

• Issuing the first report of its kind estimating the number of H-1B nonimmigrant authorized to work in the US.

• Instituting electronic filing for multiple forms and, for the first time ever, using an electronic registration process for the purpose of H-1B cap selection.

Moreover, Edlow said, USCIS published temporary final rules to amend certain H-2A and H-2B requirements to help US employers avoid disruptions in lawful employment, protect the nation’s food supply chain, and lessen impacts from the covid-19 public health emergency.

USCIS also issued key guidance in numerous other areas to accommodate those impacted by covid-19.

For example, he said, USCIS provided flexibilities for foreign medical graduates assisting in the fight against covid-19.

In FY 2019, USCIS also expanded certain screening procedures, Edlow said. This includes additional vetting for naturalization and permanent residence applicants.

Indian-American Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington questioned Edlow over the administration’s stalling on the DACA decision weeks after the Supreme Court upheld the Obama era program, CNN reported.

“Mr. Edlow, I understand you don’t agree with the Supreme Court’s decision, but do you believe compliance with the Supreme Court is a choice?” she asked.

“Supreme Court compliance is not a choice, however, the mandate did not enter until last week,” the official responded.

Jayapal repeatedly asked whether Edlow consulted with the Department of Homeland Security leadership or the White House about the memo issued by Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf Tuesday.

“The memo was not issued by me. I would defer to Acting Secretary Wolf,” Edlow said, later conceding that there were conversations but he wasn’t consulted on the memo.

Edlow said the agency was holding applications while it determined next steps.

“You do not get to decide whether or not you’re going to comply with the Supreme Court order,” Japayal said.

“You’ve had a month since the Supreme Court’s decision to change your processing applications and make sure you comply with that order. You have not done that,” she added.

In an interview with NPR, acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli called the move an “interim action,” but dodged questions about whether the administration will ultimately terminate DACA.

“If we had a final point in place, we would have already enacted it, but we are going to seriously go through a more significant process along the lines that the Supreme Court spoke in expectation of and consider all of those factors in depth that they identified and to comply with that order,” Cuccinelli was said.

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