Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Masters PT / OT H-1B Update

Back in the spring, the USCIS routinely was denying PT and OT H-1B cases in instances in which the PT /OT did not hold a Masters Degree. This was wrong. Many clients filed appeals to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). Eventually, several staffing and recruiting clients bandied together and filed a lawsuit against the USCIS. Cindy and I were pleased to take a leading role in the direction of that lawsuit.

In direct response to the lawsuit, USCIS’ Service Center Operations Officer Barbara Velarde issued a May 22, 2009 Guidance Memorandum clarifying the point that there was no Masters Degree rule. Instead, the Guidance directs all USCIS officers to approve all H-1B cases for PT/OTs as long as the worker holds a license in the state of intended employment.

Since that time all of MU’s post-May 22 cases have been approved, save one unusual case. We are working directly with the California Service to have that one case overturned.

At the AILA Annual Convention, the USCIS said that there would be a forthcoming Guidance explaining how to overturn previously denied H-1B cases. None has been published. That having been said, we have begun to see the USCIS, on its own volition, take some action. This week we received our first AAO approval; the case appears to have never actually been sent to the AAO, it was just approved by the California Service Center (CSC).

I’ve also seen a communication in which the CSC confirmed to a House of Representatives’ staffer, that “the California Service Center will commit to an answer in 30 to 60 days.” Hopefully, we all can put an end to this unfortunate tale in the near future.

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