Trump Administration Tightens H-1B Renewal Standards

Trump Administration Tightens H-1B Renewal Standards

The US government, Axios reported earlier this week, has issued new policy guidance that will make it more difficult for holders of employment-based visas like the H-1B to renew them:

Currently, immigration officers reviewing visa extension applications defer to prior eligibility decisions for that visa — which means if a person was found to be eligible for an initial work visa, they would usually be considered eligible for an extension of that visa. But in a memo released late Monday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services rescinded that policy and instructed its officers to apply the same level of scrutiny to both initial petitions and extension requests, consistent with policies “that protect the interests of U.S. workers.”

This guidance is a continuation of the administration’s efforts to crack down on what President Donald Trump and other H-1B critics say is widespread abuse of the visa system. SHRM’s Roy Maurer breaks down what this change means for employers of work visa holders:

“The previous policy memos addressed consistency and providing more-reliable adjudications throughout USCIS,” said attorney Allison Kranz, an immigration solutions partner with Envoy Global, an immigration services company based in Chicago. “The memos instructed officers to rely on the previous decision of the first officer unless there was an unusual circumstance, such as in cases of material error, a substantial change in circumstances, new information that changes the case or, obviously, fraud or misrepresentation.”

She added that she doesn’t think the policy update will lead to significant changes in the process for employers. “Some employers may experience a petition being approved, and the subsequent extension denied, but that has already been happening,” she said. “Immigration attorneys have been seeing that for years.”