On October 23, 2017, the CIS made official what immigration attorneys have been seeing in practice for a long time: Dramatically higher and more intense scrutiny of extension petitions for nonimmigrant workers. In the past, CIS understood that a prior approval of a petition should be given consideration, i.e., if CIS previously granted a petition it is logical to assume that CIS knew what it was doing and knew that it was inefficient and unnecessary to re-adjudicate the entire matter each time an extension was requested. CIS has always had the authority, as it should, to question a prior approval where a CIS officer suspects fraud or a material change in the underlying eligibility for a particular nonimmigrant status, so the intention of the new guidance is unclear except that it will force petitioners and individuals to spend more money and time trying to prove to CIS what CIS has already accepted in a prior filing. So much for encouraging a dynamic and efficient 21st century economy! The new guidance applies to all nonimmigrant work categories that require filing of an I-129 petition – H-1Bs, H-2Bs, L-1s, Os, Ps, and others. The policy takeaway: This administration really does not see immigration as a benefit to our country’s culture and economy. The practical takeaway: Overdocument! U.S. businesses and individuals trying their hardest to follow the immigration laws and procedures will have to try even harder and even when they do everything right will face increased uncertainty in the future. Read more here.
Timothy R. Bakken