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New US memo makes it tougher to renew H-1B visa

26 October 2017

So in essence, officers must review requests for renewal as thoroughly as they would for initial visa applications. The federal agency also said that the previous memorandum of April 23, 2004, appeared to place this burden on USCIS.

In the previous policy, if a person was found to be eligible for work visa, they were by default eligible for extension so long as "as the key elements were unchanged and there was no evidence of a material error or fraud related to the prior determination".

The new restrictions were made even as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said that she had raised the H-1B visa issue with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during their meeting in New Delhi.

Every year, more than 100,000 foreign workers are brought to the USA on the H-1B visa and are allowed to stay for up to six years.

"The guidance applies to almost all nonimmigrant classifications filed using Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, " a statement from the agency said.

While the new policy does not change regulations on the documentary requirements of an extension application, it directs officers that "they should not feel constrained in requesting additional documentation in the course of adjudicating a petition extension".

Rescinding its more than 13-year-old policy, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said that the burden of proof in establishing eligibility is, at all times, on the petitioner, reports NDTV.

Experts say that the change would affect both new visa applicants and people already living in the country. With more entering the USA through the visa, Americans are often replaced and forced to train their foreign replacements.

H-1B visa allows employers of United States to employ foreign workers in their speciality occupations.

"USCIS officers are at the front lines of the administration's efforts to enhance the integrity of the immigration system", said Cissna, noting: "This updated guidance provides clear direction to help advance policies that protect the interests of U.S. workers". Additionally, the memorandum states that the updated policy is "more consistent with the agency's current priorities and also advances policies that protect the interests of USA workers".

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.

New US memo makes it tougher to renew H-1B visa