Another Call for “Back to the Future” Change of Policy For H-1B Cap Selections by January 2024.

by Alan Lee, Esq.

USCIS must come to the inevitable conclusion that its current H-1B selection system is inoperable and fatally flawed by fraud. It must then go back to its old system of requesting the submission of full petitions by April 1.

This writer called for the action in a May1, 2023, article “H-1B Selection Process a Travesty-Time to Go ‘Back to the Future’”  after the extent of the chicanery was revealed by USCIS as the rate of selection approval plummeted for those playing by the rules. From FY 2018- 2020 just prior to the implementation of the registration system in FY-2021, the number of received petitions in the three years hovered in the consistent range of 190,000 – 200,000 for the approximate 85,000 available numbers. Since then, petitioners have not been required to submit full petitions from which selections are made, the only current requirements being $10 per candidate and a small online form filled in by the sponsoring organization. Not surprisingly, cheating has been the name of the game as the FY-2023 number of registrations ballooned to an astounding 780,884.

USCIS then announced and ran a second selection process at the end of July, undoubtedly with an eye on the outrage of those shut out by the cheating, and to its credit selected 188,400 to fill the approximate 85,000 slots. But this is an unsustainable situation and the agency does not have the resources to investigate most of the fraud cases. With the closing of the second round of selections, USCIS sent an update on August 1, 2023, with strong warnings against people trying to game the system, but it revealed statistics that were simply staggering - 780,884 total registrations with eligible registrations being 758,994; eligible registrations for beneficiaries with no other registrations 350,103; and eligible registrations for beneficiaries with multiple eligible registrations 408,891. Besides attempting to scare off potential fraudsters, does anyone really believe that USCIS has the ability to investigate each selected multiple registration to see whether there are bona fide job openings by bona fide nonaffiliated organizations? Looking at the numbers provided by USCIS, only 21,890 registrations were found ineligible, and many of those were not deemed ineligible due to fraud, but for duplicates and other technical reasons.

USCIS is a cash-strapped organization that clearly does not have the resources to investigate each of the duplicate filings among the 188,400 selectees, nor for that matter, each of the non-selected among the 408,891 multiple registrations. A return to the old system would ensure that each submitted petition is bona fide because of the cost and effort required to put in full petitions. USCIS has until the beginning of the year if it decides to go back to the future since the time to submit petitions had traditionally been the first five business days of April and organizations will need time to put the paperwork together.

About The Author

Alan Lee, Esq. is an exclusive practitioner of immigration law based in New York City with an AV preeminent rating in the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory for 20+ years, registered in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, on the New York Super Lawyers list (2011-12, 2013-14, 2014-2015, 2015-2023), and recognized as a New York Area Top Rated Lawyer. He has written extensively on immigration over the past years for Interpreter Releases, Immigration Daily, and the ethnic newspapers, World Journal, Sing Tao, Epoch Times, Pakistan Calling, Muhasba and OCS; testified as an expert on immigration in civil court proceedings; and is a regular contributor to Martindale-Hubbell's Ask-a-Lawyer program. His article, "The Bush Temporary Worker Proposal and Comparative Pending Legislation: an Analysis" was Interpreter Releases' cover display article at the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in 2004; his 2004 case in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Firstland International v. INS, successfully challenged Legacy INS' policy of over 40 years of revoking approved immigrant visa petitions under a nebulous standard of proof, although its central holding that the government had to notify approved immigrant petition holders of the revocation prior to the their departure to the U. S. for the petition to be able to be revoked was short-lived as it was specifically targeted in the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 (which in response changed the language of the revocation statute itself). Yet Firstland lives on as precedent that the government must comply with nondiscretionary duties established in law, and such failure is reviewable in federal courts. His 2015 case, Matter of Leacheng International, Inc., with the Administrative Appeals Office of USCIS (AAO) set nation-wide standards on the definition of "doing business" for multinational executives and managers to gain immigration benefits.

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