More Details Needed for High-Skill Visa Workers at Third Party

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By Genevieve Douglas

Employers seeking visas for highly skilled workers will need to provide additional details in their petitions if the employment involves working at a third-party worksite, as part of what the Trump administration says is an effort to root out fraud and abuse.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services policy memorandum—which took effect Feb. 22—says that for an H-1B visa petition involving a third-party worksite to be approved, the petitioner must show “by a preponderance of evidence” that, among other things, the beneficiary will be employed in a specialty occupation and the petitioning employer will maintain an employer-employee relationship with the beneficiary for the duration of the requested validity period.

“Based on the agency’s experience in administering the H-1B program, USCIS recognizes that significant employer violations, such as paying less-than-required wages, benching employees and/or having employees performing non-specialty occupation jobs, may be more likely to occur when petitioners place employees at a third-party work site,” Joanne Talbot, a spokeswoman for the agency, told Bloomberg Law via email Feb. 23.

The guidance aligns with the Trump administration’s Hire American, Buy American executive order released last spring. The order’s aim was to protect the interests of U.S.-born workers.

Employer Complications Likely

The USCIS memo will likely be a “big headache” for employers, H-1B workers, and clients who expect to employ highly skilled immigrant workers, Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, told Bloomberg Law Feb. 23.

It’s very common for H-1B workers to be placed at third-party worksites, as many companies don’t have IT professionals in house, and hire the H-1B workers on a contract basis, Pierce said. Additionally, the IT industry is “very fluid” and often employers may not know upfront the exact details of what the immigrant employee’s employment will entail for the full three years of the visa, Pierce said.

Moreover, there’s a whole industry of employers that supply H-1B visa holder to companies on a contract basis, and so the full effect of the agency’s memo is yet unknown, she added. The memo may also “drastically increase” USCIS requests for evidence for H-1B petitions, or result in petitions granted for less than three years, Pierce said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Genevieve Douglas in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at

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