Update: June 10, 1:01 pm:

USCIS has just announced the appointment of immigrant-hating Ken Cuccinelli, the former Virginia Attorney General as the new Acting Director of USCIS.

These could be very ominous times for legal immigration in America. See also: ThinkProgress:

Trump picks immigration hardliner to lead USCIS


With the Trump/Miller administration's bigots, haters and white supremacists running the show, we can expect even more bias and less due process and fundamental fairness than ever before in the processing and decision making for H-1B, green card and all other legal immigration benefit petitions and applications.

My earlier comment follows.

Anyone who claims that Donald Trump's racist immigration agenda is only directed against "illegal" (i.e. unauthorized or irregular) immigrants and has nothing to do with rolling back non-European legal immigration either is either not being serious or else has not been looking at the news for the past almost 2 and a half years.

Beginning with the Muslim ban executive order and continuing with his calls to abolish immigration by close relatives who are not part of the immediate family and the diversity visa; as well as attempting to change the "public charge" rules so as to deny legal visas and green cards to all but the most affluent immigrants, Trump has made clear that he is just as much opposed to legal immigration by people who are not from white "Countries like Norway" as he claims to be opposed to "illegal" immigration.

Trump's excuse for this assault on legal immigration is that he supposedly supports a "merit-based" system which would favor skilled, educated professionals who are fluent in English and will help grow America's economy, instead of basing our system on the family connections which enabled his own mother, grandfather and, much more recently, wife's parents, to immigrate to America and ultimately become US citizens. But a study of the effect of his new H-1B rules shows that this pretext is a hypocritical lie. What he is doing is placing barriers in the way of highly skilled and educated tech professionals from India, with the effect of increasing the percentage of these immigrants who come from Europe.

This is not to say that immigration of skilled H-1B professionals or any other eligible applicants from Europe is a bad idea; of course it is not. But this should not be done as part of an obvious attempt to cut back skilled legal immigration from one particular country or part of the world. Yet this is exactly what the Trump administration is doing, according to a study of new H-1B rules published by vox.com on June 7.

See: Strict US immigration laws make Canada more attractive to tech workers


The reports states that according to research by Indeed:

"India, the country that receives by far the most H-1B visas, had an 8 per cent decline in US tech jobs from Q1 2018 to Q1 2019, according to Indeed. Meanwhile, interest from Germany, France and Russia increased more than 25 per cent in that time. This flip is one of the reasons that overall interest in US tech jobs has stayed level."

The vox.com report continues:

"The change may be connected to new immigration rules that have been directed at outsourcing companies that place workers at third-party sites where 15 or more per cent of their workforce is on H-1B. Many of these types of companies are based in India and hire Indians.

Stricter rules geared at Indian tech companies could be having a chilling effect on Indians' interest in US jobs."

According to one analyst mentioned in the same article:

"'It's possible, especially with these groups we're attacking with higher scrutiny are disproportionately groups that hire Indians, the general sentiment is that the US is closed for Indians...'

She added that the effect wouldn't just impact outsourcing companies. 'Within those groups, their also punishing legitimate companies that are just trying to hire the best and the brightest and use the programs as intended...'"

In addition to specifically targeting Indian outsourcing companies and their employees, USCIS has two other methods of discouraging use of the H-1B program by everyone, something which also has a disproportionate effect on skilled, highly educated immigrants from India in particular.

The first is a recent change in USCIS H-4 work permit processing procedures which cause such long delays in approval as to make this program virtually unavailable to many applicants as a practical matter. See, Forbes, June 10:

USCIS finds new way to stop H-1B spouses from working

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2019/06/10/uscis-finds-new-way-to stop-h-1b-spouses-from-working/#195b72235c89

The second is increasing use of a particular type of H-1B RFE scam which questions whether the offered H-1B job is really a "specialty occupation".

This type of RFE has been around for more than 20 years, and I have seen many of them during this period. But, in the Trump Era, it seem s that almost every RFE in an H-1B case almost automatically disputes that the H-1B position normally requires a bachelor degree or the equivalent in or related to a specific specialty.

Almost without exception, the reasons given in the RFE's for disputing the "specialty occupation" status of the offered job are based on distorted and absurd arguments that have long since been struck down by the federal courts and which cannot possibly be put forward in good faith now.

I will be writing separately about the USCIS "not a specialty occupation" RFE, which amounts to little more than a scam, and is by far one of the leading causes of denial for H-1B cases filed on behalf of highly qualified workers, very many of whom are from India, in a forthcoming comment.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law