CWS 3.0: April 4, 2012

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New H-1B Guidance Is Boost for Staffing Firms, Buyers

Staffing firms have experienced difficulty bringing in workers on H-1B visas used for bringing in highly skilled workers such as information technology professionals. However, the situation took a step toward improvement last month, the TechServe Alliance reported.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service issued updated guidance regarding the “Neufeld memo” that clarifies staffing firms are eligible to file H-1B petitions even though they place workers at third-party sites.

The Neufeld memo was originally released in 2010 and had listed “third-party placement/job shop” as an example of a firm that would not qualify as an H-1B visa employer.

A fight against the memo began with the TechServe Alliance and others suing the USCIS in 2010. Although a judge dismissed the case without issuing an injunction against the memo, the government conceded at the time that staffing firms could still serve as employers for H-1B visa petitions. However, staffing firms still faced difficulties. For more, click here.

The new guidance clarifies how staffing firms can demonstrate an employer-employee relationship for the purpose of H-1B visas, according to the TechServe Alliance. In addition, it clarifies that letters from staffing buyers for purposes of verification are not required. Although the TechServe Alliance notes that client letters are often still the best evidence and can facilitate USCIS approval.

“We are grateful to Director Mayorkas for addressing industry concerns through the release of the new guidance,” said TechServe Alliance CEO Mark Roberts “While there is still more work to be done, I see this as a positive first step towards ensuring IT staffing firms have access to H-1B professionals on the same basis as companies in other industries.”

The USCIS’ new guidance came March 12, shortly before it began accepting H-1B visa petitions on Monday for the 2013 federal fiscal year.

The TechServe Alliance is a collaboration of IT staffing firms, solutions firms, clients, consultants and suppliers dedicated to advancing excellence and ethics within the IT services industry.

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