Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

Updates to H-1B amendments for workplace changes

A recent clarification of employment visa requirements may have left some California employers scrambling to meet an August 19 deadline. USCIS determined in April that employers are required to file an amended H-1B petition if a worker under such a visa will move to a different geographical work location. Although a situation arose involving one worker and their employer, USCIS indicated that all employers were responsible for updating their H-1B petitions if workers had been relocated outside of the same metropolitan areas initially used on the petitions.

Initially, USCIS required that amendments would be required in all cases involving relocated workers. However, the deadline has been extended, allowing employers to comply on or before Jan. 15, 2016. The agency has also now indicated that it will not generally seek denials of visas or revocations in instances of relocation that occurred prior to the April 9 decision, leaving employers in such cases with the option of not amending their H-1B petitions. At the same time, USCIS will not cancel actions that are already in progress because of relocation activities that preceded the decision.

Because the language used by USCIS is somewhat unclear involving cases prior to April 9, it may be important for affected employers to seek legal guidance about their situations. Any cases of relocation following that date require that employers comply by filing the appropriate amendments. This will also be the standard moving forward.

An employer could be caught by surprise with new regulations related to their foreign workers and visas, making ongoing legal support an important consideration. In dealing with vague language, an employer might run the risk of making an incorrect decision about paperwork, which could affect their workforce if an employee's visa is revoked. Employment immigration attorneys may be able to seek clarification in such situations to ensure that the employer remains in compliance with USCIS standards.

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