The Trump administration has announced tough new rules for issuing H-1B visas to those to be employed at one or more third-party worksites under which the employer will have to prove that its H-1B employee at a third-party worksite has specific and non-qualifying speculative assignments in speciality occupation.
The new policy, announced yesterday through a seven-page document, empowers USCIS to issue H-1B visas to an employee for a limited period for which he / she work at a third-party work site, a move that will hugely impact Indian IT companies and their employees.
The policy also makes it mandatory for the company to prove that its H-1B employee at a third-party worksite has specific and non-qualifying speculative assignments in speciality occupation.
As per the new rules, in order for an H-1B petition involving a third-party worksite to be approved, the petitioner must show by a preponderance of evidence that the beneficiary will be employed in a speciality occupation and the employer will maintain an employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary for the duration of the requested validity period.
For placing workers at third-party worksites, the companies must demonstrate that they have specific and non-speculative qualifying assignments in a speciality occupation for that beneficiary for the entire time requested on the petition.
The H-1B programme offers temporary US visas that allow companies to hire highly skilled foreign professionals working in areas with shortages of qualified American workers.
The new rules will hit Indian IT companies hard as these are among major beneficiaries of H-1B visas and have significant number of employees deployed at third-party worksites.
A significant number of American banking, travel and commercial services depend on on-site IT workers from India to get their job done.
The latest policy memorandum is a part of President Donald Trump's 'Buy American and Hire American Executive Order' and the directive to protect the interests of US workers, the USCIS said.
As things stand, H-1B visas are issued for periods less than three years. The new rules could reverse the tradition of issuing H-1B visas for three years at a time.
The new guidelines are effective immediately and comes weeks ahead of the beginning of the H-1B visas filing season, which is expected to be 2 April, for the fiscal year 2019 beginning 1 October 2018.