CWS 3.0: June 29, 2011 - Vol. 3.15

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Behind the News: H-1B Saga Continues

IT staffing firms haven’t had an easy time of it, having to deal with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s “Neufeld Memo” and its prohibitions against staffing firms being able to bring in H-1B visa holders. Supplying IT talent is these staffing firms’ bread and butter, so being denied the ability to bring specialized workers from different parts of the world was a blow to them as well as their customers.

End users of contingent labor use staffing firms to find the talent they need. Often it is easier to go through a staffing firm to find a specialized IT worker who can come in on an H-1 B visa to work on short-term projects. H-1B workers sponsored by a staffing firm can provide both flexibility and cost efficiencies. There are many companies that don’t want the hassle or lack the resources to deal with immigration, paper work etc., so they turn to a staffing agency to step in and manage all the necessary details. The new limitations on H1-B’s usage by staffing firms have hurt those companies as well.

But the H-1B saga continued this month with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) taking a stand on this issue — on the side of IT staffing firms. The TechServe Alliance, a collaboration of IT services firms, clients, consultants and suppliers, had earlier met with Sen. Cornyn. He has forcefully weighed in on behalf of them by sending a letter to the USCIS director questioning the agency’s implementation of the policy set forth in the Neufeld memo.

In his letter, the senator letter said that the agency “should not create a new policy that essentially denies the entire IT consulting and staffing industry access to H-1B workers.” Cornyn is the ranking member of the Immigration Subcommittee. The TechServe Alliance is pleased to have his support.

“We could not ask for a better advocate of industry interests,” said Mark Roberts, CEO of the TechServe Alliance. “We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Cornyn and other members of Congress as we seek to ensure IT staffing firms have access to H-1B professionals on the same basis as companies in other industries.”

The Neufeld memo was released to USCIS workers in January 2010, providing information on what qualified as an employer when considering H-1B visa applications. The memo listed “third-party placement/job shop” as an example of a firm that wouldn’t qualify as an employer.

The TechServe Alliance, the American Staffing Association and others sued the USCIS in June 2010. Although the case was dismissed, the USCIS conceded that staffing firms could be considered employers for the purposes of bringing in H-1B visa holders.

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