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Monday, March 25 , 2019, 9:54 am | Fair 56º

 
 
 
 

Joe Guzzardi: Tighter Employment-Based Visa Guidelines Are Good for American Workers

Some of President Donald Trump’s immigration campaign promises are inching along and may never be realized. The most notable is his signature issue, the Southwest border wall that is going nowhere fast.

In October, the White House unveiled eight prototypes, but Congress has shown little interest in funding their construction. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s homeland security appropriations subcommittee, recently introduced legislation that would provide $5 billion for 200 miles of “physical barriers and associated technology,” but a long path must be traveled before the bill becomes law.

But on other, less headline-grabbing pledges to reform immigration, especially to tighten up on temporary employment-based visas, Trump is having more success even though the establishment media are slow to report on it.

Effective Sept. 11, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will have authorization to deny, without advising the petitioner, visa applications that in the review process are deemed incomplete or falsified.

Previously, questionable submissions were returned with requests for more information, the so-called RFE (request for evidence), or issued a notice of intent to deny (NOID).

According to a Reuters report, RFEs on H-1B petitions increased 45 percent from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31, 2017, compared to the same period from the previous year.

USCIS’ new policy comes on the heels of recently announced procedures to allow for the more expeditious removal of foreign nationals whose employment authorizations have expired, but who have nevertheless illegally remained in the United States.

The revised guidelines will affect H-1B visa candidates and their sponsors, which include tech giants Microsoft, Google and Apple, among others. Employers are indignant and claim that simple clerical errors that might lead to denied applications or removal create an unstable work environment. Immigration lawyers are equally outraged.

Arguing the coin’s other side, USCIS director L. Francis Cissna said that restoring full authority to his immigration officers “will discourage frivolous filings and skeletal applications used to game the system, ensure our resources are not wasted, and ultimately improve our agency’s ability to efficiently and fairly adjudicate requests for immigration benefits in full accordance with our laws.”

USCIS’ changes represent welcome news for unemployed and displaced American tech workers who have been victimized by H-1B standards that are too loose and have too little federal oversight.

Congress created the H-1B as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 on the premise that the visa would be used exclusively to fill temporary tech worker shortages. The assumption that there may have been an American tech worker shortage, even a temporary one, was unfounded. But during the 3½ decades since the H-1B came into existence, employers have routinely used it as a cheap labor vehicle to displace American workers.

A prime example of the contradiction between employers’ labor shortage laments and reality can be found in a 2016 Business Insider story which noted that HP cut 55,000 jobs between 2012 and 2015, yet filed more than 2,000 labor condition applications for H-1B visas in a four-year period.

Prospective H-1Bs are foreign nationals who aspire to work in the United States for a six-year minimum. Once in America, often with their families, spouses and minor children who are also employment-authorized, they can eventually become lawful permanent residents, and U.S. citizens.

Given the rich rewards that await H-1Bs and their dependents, evermore rigorous USCIS standards are and always will be appropriate.

— Joe Guzzardi is an analyst and researcher with Progressives for Immigration Reform who now lives in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter: @joeguzzardi19. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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