The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a ruling by which an H-1B visa beneficiary can’t change geographical location outside of the labour condition application (LCA), or on applications filed with his/her original petition. This move is expected to restrict the free movement of H-1B visa holders between various worksites in the country.
The administrative appeals office (AAO) of USCIS, in April this year, said that the relocation of an H-1B worker to a worksite not previously listed on the LCA or H-1B petition would require a newly-certified LCA as well as an amended H-1B petition.
The USCIS said on May 21 that it would give employers up to 90 days to comply with the AAO’s decision. That means, if an amended petition is not filed on or before August 19, an H-1B worker deployed at a worksite other than the one originally mentioned in the petition could be subject to revocation of his/her H-1B status.
“This guidance also makes it imperative that employers contemplating moving an H-1B worker to a new location not listed on the LCA and/or I-129 petition first obtain a certified LCA covering that location, file an amended I-129 petition with USCIS, and then move the worker to the new worksite,” Shashi Bhusan, a senior analyst with equity analyst firm Prabhudas Lilladher, said in a report.
“We see this scrutiny as negative for Indian IT (information technology) sector, because their talent pools are many-a-times transferred to new clients, projects, or put on bench before being reassigned,” the report said.
The Indian IT services companies are heavily dependent on H-1B as well as L1 visas to depute their employees to client locations to temporarily work there.
The industry is also believed to be the single-largest beneficiary of the H-1B visa programme and has led to an increase in the demand for such visas over the years.
For the financial year 2016, USCIS received around 233,000 H-1B visa petitions as against the cap of 85,000, including those petitions filed under the US advanced degree exemption. For FY14, it got 124,000 petitions that went up to 172,500 for FY15.