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USCIS Announces H1-B policy on “Computer Related Positions”

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On March 31, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a new policy memorandum titled “Rescission of the December 22, 2000 ‘Guidance Memo on H1B Computer Related Positions.’”

The USCIS issued the memo after noticing the potential for inconsistencies between service centers in processing H1B applications for computer related positions.  USCIS issued the memo to ensure consistent decisions in these applications across the United States.

The memo focuses on computer programmers and rescinds an existing 17-year-old memo issued on December 22, 2000.  That memo needed to be updated because high-tech industries have evolved significantly since 2000, as have occupations in the industry.

USCIS will adjudicate H1B applications for computer related positions based on the current version of the Occupational Outlook Handbook (Handbook). “[T]he fact that a person may be employed as a computer programmer and may use information technology skills and knowledge to help an enterprise achieve its goals in the course of his or her job is not sufficient to establish the position as a specialty occupation.” In order to qualify for an H-1B, the employer must show that the position requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, which requires the attainment of bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific specialty. This is true for all H-1Bs.

The new policy memo will offer transparency and clarity regarding the approach USCIS has taken in the past several years.  The memo should offer guidance to employers and provide the public with notice as to how USCIS makes decisions in these cases.

A link to the full text of the memorandum is available HERE

©Scott Global Migration Law Group, 2017

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