7 Points To Remember Regarding Resume Review In The PERM Process

The employer’s review of resumes received from applicants continues to be one of the trickiest issues in the PERM labor certification process. The process might seem straightforward enough because, after all, employers filing PERM applications are likely quite used to evaluating resumes from applicants. But such thinking is probably where the first wrong step is taken. I last blogged on this issue on December 2012 and my blog entitled, Resume Review in the PERM Process is still very relevant. However, I find that this issue continues to be a problematic one and worthy of a follow up.  Improper resume review continues to be one of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) most popular reasons for PERM denials.

By way of background, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the DOL has a statutory responsibility to ensure that no foreign worker is admitted for permanent residence based upon an offer of employment absent a finding that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified and available for the work to be undertaken and that the admission of such worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers similarly employed. INA §212(a)(5)(A)(i). The DOL fulfills this responsibility by determining the availability of qualified U.S. workers before approving a permanent labor certification application and by ensuring that U.S. workers are fairly considered for all job opportunities that are the subject of a permanent labor certification application.  Accordingly, the DOL relies on employers who file labor certification applications to recruit and consider U.S. workers in good faith.  Under 20 C.F.R. §656.10(c), the employer must certify that U.S. workers who applied for the job opportunity were rejected for lawful job-related reasons. While the DOL has indicated that good faith recruitment requires that an employer’s process for considering U.S. workers who respond to certification-related recruitment closely resemble the employer’s normal consideration process, operating under this belief will most likely lead to problems.  I have always found that it is infinitely more effective to counsel the employer not to consider PERM as resembling any type of real world recruitment process whatsoever.

Review of the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) is a good place to stay up to date on the DOL’s reasoning on any PERM issue. Based on recent BALCA decisions, here are 7 points regarding resume review that are worth discussing with the employer at the outset of the PERM process, even before the job duties and requirements are finalized and the advertisement is drafted.

1.   Be certain that use of the Kellogg language is warranted and reflective of the actual   minimum requirements for the offered position.

2.   An applicant cannot be rejected simply because their cover letter or resume clearly states that they are seeking a completely different position.

In Global Teachers Research and Resources, Inc. 2015-PER-00396 (March 30, 2017), the employer’s job requirements for the position of Elementary Teacher were a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and 60 months of experience in the job offered.  In addition, the qualified applicant also had to demonstrate eligibility for a Georgia Teaching Certificate. In section H.14 of the ETA Form 9089, the employer had also listed, “Employer will Accept any Combination of Experience, Training or Education.” This is commonly referred to as the Kellogg language based on Matter of Francis Kellogg, 1994-INA-465 (Feb. 2, 1998) (en banc).

After reviewing the employer’s response to an audit, the DOL denied the PERM application finding that the employer failed to properly consider one applicant who possessed a Master’s degree in Education/Special Education, 60 months of experience and a GA teaching license. The Certifying Officer (CO) reasoned that since the employer had indicated “Employer will Accept any Combination of Experience, Training or Education” then the employer had to consider the applicant even if she did not have a degree in Elementary Education. Oftentimes, an employer will insert the Kellogg language on the ETA Form 9089 when it is totally unnecessary. It is important to remember that this is specific language that is only required on the ETA Form 9089 when the foreign national qualifies for the offered position only on the basis of the employer’s alternative requirements. In addition, Federal Insurance Co., 2008-PER-00037 (Feb. 20, 2009) held that the failure to include this language was not fatal as there is no space on the form for such language. Some employers recall receiving PERM denials due to lack of this language prior to the decision in Federal Insurance and, not fully comprehending the issue, they feel better to just include it. It is therefore very important to discuss the meaning of the Kellogg language with the employer and whether the insertion of this language would reflect the employer’s true minimum requirements for the offered position.

The employer in Global Teachers Research and Resources filed a request for reconsideration and argued that the applicant had clearly indicated on her resume that she was seeking employment as Special Education Teacher and that this information prevented them from actually considering applicant for the offered position. However, BALCA held that since the Applicant had applied for the Elementary Teacher position and since it would be illogical for a person to apply for a position in which they were not interested, the employer was obligated to give the application due consideration. Citing a long list of precedent decisions which would make for required reading, BALCA held that an applicant is presumed to be interested in a job for which he or she applies.

3.    Be careful of rejection for lack of an unstated, “inherent” requirement.

4.    Even if an applicant may lawfully be rejected for various reasons, always list ALL   reasons for rejection in the recruitment report.

 In Matter of Los Angeles Unified School District, 2012-PER-03153 (Jan. 23, 2017) the employer recruited for the position of “Teacher, Special Education” for which it required a Bachelor’s degree in any field, a valid California Education Specialist teaching credential, and no training or experience.  After two audits, the PERM application was denied because the employer rejected an applicant finding that the applicant failed to meet the minimum requirements for the offered position because the applicant had a below satisfactory performance evaluation on her most recent student-teaching assignment.

The employer requested reconsideration and, listing several pre-PERM administrative law decisions, argued that some qualifications are simply inherent and need not be expressly stated in the job description. The employer argued that the ability to “teach special education classes competently” is one such inherent requirement that need not be expressly stated. The employer also pointed to a negative confidential reference from the applicant’s most recent teaching assignment.

BALCA dismissed all of the administrative law decisions as non-binding and stated that the PERM program demands strict compliance with the regulations which require that the job requirements described on the ETA Form 9089 represent the employer’s actual minimum requirements for the offered position. BALCA found it debatable whether one negative performance evaluation over the course of a career could demonstrate a lack of competency. But ultimately, since nothing in the employer’s stated minimum requirements indicated that an applicant cannot have a negative performance evaluation or a negative reference of any kind, BALCA found the rejection of the applicant to be unlawful. Basically, any qualification that can form the basis of a rejection ought to be listed in the advertisement. If it is not, then it cannot be used as the basis for a rejection.

However, this decision does not make sense as every inherent skill cannot be listed in the advertisement, the ability to speak English, being the prime example. There are a line of cases to support this proposition. See Ashbrook-Simon-Hartley v. McLaughlin, 863 F.2d 410 (5th Cir 1989), Matter of Ron Hartgrove, 1989 BALCA Lexis 6 (BALCA May 31, 1989), Matter of La Dye & Print Works, 1995 BALCA LEXIS 59 (BALCA April 13, 1995).

In its appellate brief the employer had also tried to insert a new argument that the applicant was also not qualified because she did not have the required teacher credential. The employer stated that it did not initially consider this but that is nevertheless a basis for rejection. BALCA dismissed this evidence finding that its review is restricted to timely submitted evidence that was part of the record when the CO made his decision. It is therefore very important that an employer conduct a complete review of each applicant’s qualifications and list each and every lawful reason for rejection of any applicant. In the instant case, despite the employer’s rejection for lack of what it considered to be an inherent requirement, if the employer had also lawfully rejected the applicant for lack of the teaching credential and demonstrated that the applicant indeed lacked the credential, the PERM might not have been denied.

5.     Never put the duty to follow up on the applicant.

Matter of Unisoft International, Inc. 2015-PER-00045 (Dec. 29, 2016) is a supervised recruitment case.  The offered position was that of Network Administrator. The employer’s PERM application was eventually denied for four reasons but only reason number 4 regards resume review. Essentially, the CO found that the employer did not conduct a good-faith recruitment effort because the employer sent out a form letter to each of 20 applicants. This letter stated, “After a preliminary review of your resume, we have determined that you do not have a few of the desired skills we are looking for including experience with MCP and SPO for OS2200.” Putting the onus of additional communication on the applicant, the letter then stated, “Please contact us immediately to schedule an interview if you do have these qualifications.” The CO found that the employer had failed to “intensively” recruit and had not sufficiently established that there were no US applicants who were able, willing, qualified and available to perform the work.

BALCA pointed to case law which held that an employer may lawfully reject an applicant when the resume is silent on whether he or she meets a major requirement such as a college degree. However, when the qualification is something a candidate may not indicate explicitly on his or her resume though he or she possesses it, the employer carries the obligation to inquire further whether the applicant meets the requirements.  BALCA found that the employer had rejected these 20 candidates because they did not list a subsidiary requirement on their resumes and the employer had an obligation to inquire further. The employer’s letter to these 20 applications did not fulfill this obligation because it placed the responsibility of following up and requesting an interview on the shoulders of the applicants.  Moreover, BALCA found that the employer failed to inquire whether there were any available training options for these candidates especially for two candidates who the CO identified as already possessing networking experience. BALCA found that the employer’s letters to the candidates were perfunctory and not made in good faith.

This case displays another strong example of how resume review in the PERM process does not resemble resume review in the real world. In the real world, an applicant is expected to demonstrate his or her actual interest in the offered position. In the real world, putting the onus of additional communication on the applicant could very well be a test of the applicant’s dedication and interest. No so under PERM. In the PERM process, the employer has to understand that it must bend over backwards to ensure that it has done everything in its power to fully determine whether an applicant is qualified for the offered position notwithstanding that applicant’s failure to respond to a telephone call (email and then send a certified letter); that applicant’s lack of awareness of who the employer is or of the offered position (the employer must now inform them again!);  or that applicant’s request to be contacted at a later time (the employer must comply!).

6.     Over qualification is never a lawful reason for rejection.  

7.     An applicant may be rejected based on their unwillingness to accept the salary only if the employer can show that the employer offered the position to the applicant at the listed salary and the applicant then refused to accept the position.

BALCA has long held that an employer may not reject a US worker applicant based on a belief that the applicant is over qualified for the position. This is still one rejection reason that almost all employers instinctively want to use. And again, this is where the PERM process breaks away from the real world. It is hard for most employers to comprehend why the DOL would require that they classify as qualified, an applicant who clearly would be taking a “step down” because their qualifications indicate that they are qualified for a higher level position. Employers feel that such applicant use lower level positions as a stepping stone. However, BALCA has always held that such applicants are qualified to perform the core job duties. See Bronx Medical and Dental Clinic, 1990-INA-00479 (Oct, 30, 1992) (en banc) and most recently, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC, 212-PER-02772 (Nov. 25, 2016).

Also in Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, the employer, having advertised listing the offered salary, then rejected applicants who applied for the position requesting a higher salary. While the employer’s reasoning here makes real world sense, BALCA held that an employer may reject a qualified US applicant as unwilling to accept the position at the offered wages only if the position was actually offered to the applicant and the applicant refused to accept the position at the offered wages.  The employer must have documentation of the offer and refusal.

Overall, employers must always bear in mind that the DOL serves to protect the interests of the US worker. Accordingly, while the real world may be a dog eat dog world where one typo can cause an applicant’s resume to quickly hit the trash, in the PERM world, applicants must almost be cuddled. The employer must set aside all normal reasoning; all normal industry expectations; all expectations that a US worker applicant can understand basic things like a requirement for 2-3 years of experience means that 2 years would be acceptable. The employer must consider what is in the best interest of the US worker applicant and ensure that it has sufficiently described the offered position and all its requirements to fully apprise the US worker of all he or she needs to know in order to determine whether to apply for the position. Once that application has been received, the employer is obligated to examine every aspect of that applicant’s qualification; to reach out to that applicant using multiple forms of communication if the most convenient form fails; to verify that the applicant, though lacking in a certain requirement cannot be trained within a reasonable time; and to remember, above all else, that the employer is never supposed to seek the “best” candidate for the position, but rather, must consider a candidate qualified if he or she even barely meets the stated minimum requirements.

H-1B Cap Filing Aftermath: Evaluating the Fate of the Computer Programmer and the H-1B Dependent Employer

On  March 31, 2017, on the eve of the FY 2018 H-1B Cap filing season, the USCIS issued a policy memorandum stating that computer programmer positions are not always “specialty occupations” that would render the occupation eligible under the H-1B visa. This memo rescinded an earlier memo of the Nebraska Service Center from 2000, which acknowledged that computer programming occupations were specialty occupations for H-1B purposes. The new guidance references the relevant part reference computer programmers in the  DOL’s Occupational Outlook Handbook that states, “Most computer programmers have a bachelor’s degree; however, some employers hire workers who have an associate’s degree.”  The guidance also questions whether a computer programmer position that is offered an entry-level wage could qualify for an H-1B specialty occupation because, as the OOH suggests, an associate’s degree is sufficient to enter into the field.

The fact that the guidance was issued just as employers had filed H-1B petitions to reach on the first day of the filing period, April 3, 2017, caused panic in many quarters. The media also suggested that the new guidance was aimed against India based IT firms who utilize most of the H-1B numbers each year. Such speculation was backed up by another announcement on the USCIS website entitled Putting American Workers First: USCIS Announces Further Measures to Detect H-1B Visa Fraud and Abuse. The announcement specifically indicated that USCIS would focus its resources on conducting site visits on employers who are dependent on H-1B workers and who place H-1B workers at client sites. It also set up an e mail where US workers could report alleged H-1B fraud and abuse. The DOJ also followed with an announcement cautioning employers who hire H-1B workers to not discriminate against American workers and that its Immigrants and Employee Rights division would vigorously enforce the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  INA 274B prohibits citizenship, immigration status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation and intimidation.  Not to be outdone by sister agencies, the DOL also put out a news release on April 4 stating that it would rigorously use its existing authority to initiate investigations of H-1B violators.

None of these announcements suggest anything new. The USCIS has for many years been critical of viewing computer programmers as a specialty occupation, especially if the H-1B worker receives level 1 wages. A search of non-precedent decisions on the Appeals Administrative Office website reveals a number of affirmations of denials of H-1B petitions for computer programmers over the years. This is not to suggest that a computer programmer will never be able to qualify for an H-1B visa, but the employer should not rely on the OOH and should be prepared to rebut the OOH findings that an associate’s degree would be adequate preparation for a computer programmer with respect to its niche position. In Fred 26 Importers Inc. v. DHS, a federal district court overturned a finding of the AAO that a Human Resource Manager did not qualify for an H-1B occupation as the OOH indicated that a broad range of disciplines, as opposed to a specialized discipline, could qualify a person for the occupation. The employer used expert witnesses to demonstrate that the position was complex, even in a small organization, to require a bachelor’s degree in a specialized field. If the employer’s business model requires assigning the H-1B worker at a third party client site, it is further important to demonstrate that both the petitioning employer and the client require a bachelor’s degree in a specialized field. See Defensor v. Meissner, 201 F.3d 384 (5th Cir 2000). At the same time, under the Neufeld Memo, the petitioning employer must additionally demonstrate that it and not the client exercises control over the H-1B worker’s employment. Moreover, not all computer occupations have received the same treatment by the OOH as computer programmers. For instance, according the OOH, a bachelor’s degree in computer science is a requirement to qualify as a computer systems analyst, although some employers may require bachelor’s degrees in business or liberal arts. With respect to software developers, the OOH categorically states that a bachelor’s degree in computer science or related fields is a minimum requirement. Hence, a software developer or computer systems analyst will fare better than a computer programmer, even at an entry level wage. It can also be argued that in every profession there is an entry level position, and that factor in itself should not undermine the ability of the employer to qualify the position for H-1B visa classification. If the position qualifies as a specialty occupation, then paying an entry level wage should not undermine it. If the position does not qualify as a specialty occupation for H-1B classification, then paying even at the highest wage level would not be able to salvage it.

Site visits of the FDNS are nothing new, and firms that heavily rely on H-1B workers who are placed at third party sites have been the focus in recent years. However, with respect to the USCIS’s intention to conduct site visits, the announcement states, “Targeted site visits will allow USCIS to focus resources where fraud and abuse of the H-1B program may be more likely to occur, and determine whether H-1B dependent employers are evading their obligation to make a good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers.” While it is true that H-1B dependent employers are obligated to recruit for US workers before filing H-1B petitions for foreign national workers, this obligation does not apply when a dependent employer files an H-1B petition for an exempt employee – one who is either paid $60,000 or higher or who has a master’s degree or higher in the specialty that is relevant to the position. The USCIS announcement, unfortunately,  is somewhat misleading, and a dependent employer who is not obligated to recruit because it has filed an H-1B petition for an exempt employee may be subject to a warrantless complaint or investigation. It is urged that the USCIS clarify this point in its announcement so that it can focus its resources on legitimate rather than frivolous complaints.

There is also no question that a US employer is prohibited from discriminating against an American worker in favor of an H-1B worker. However, in order to be found liable, it must be demonstrated that there was an intention to discriminate based on citizenship or national origin. If there was a lawful business objective to hire H-1B workers, or even contract with an IT consulting firm that uses H-1B workers, that would not be a legal basis to hold an employer liable under the anti-discrimination provisions of INA 274B. Only time will tell whether the DOJ intends to push the envelope further.

The USCIS on April 7, 2017 announced that the FY2018 H-1B cap had been reached. It is likely that more H-1B petitions will get rejected than accepted. Those petitions that get accepted, in the event that they face more scrutiny by virtue of being filed for computer programmer positions, will not outright get denied. The USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence, which allows the employer to demonstrate that the position qualifies for a specialty occupation. If there is a denial after that, the employer may file an appeal to the AAO, and if the appeal is dismissed, the employer can seek review in federal court. Under Darby v. Cisneros, an employer may directly pursue review in federal court and bypass the AAO.  A dependent employer who is the subject of a complaint for not recruiting US workers first has a rock solid defense if the employer filed an H-1B petition for exempt employees. Finally, employers must always hire objectively based on legitimate business criteria in order to stave off any allegations regarding discrimination. Although there are many challenges for employers filing H-1B petitions under the FY 2018 H-1B cap, they are not insurmountable.



Filing Under The FY 2018 H-1B Cap; New Developments In H-1B Cap Exemption

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will begin accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year 2018 cap on April 3, 2017. All cap-subject H-1B petitions filed before April 3, 2017, for the FY 2018 cap will be rejected.

Congress set a cap of 65,000 H-1B visas per fiscal year. An advanced-degree exemption from the H-1B cap is available for 20,000 beneficiaries who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher. The agency said it will monitor the number of petitions received and notify the public when the H-1B cap has been met.

If the USCIS receives more H-1B petitions than allocated under the two H-1B caps, then it will conduct a lottery of all H-1B petitions received in the first five days from April 3. Like last year, it is anticipated that many more H-1B petitions will be rejected rather than accepted. There will again be many disappointed applicants.

To compound the problem, USCIS also recently announced a temporary suspension of premium processing for all H-1B petitions starting April 3 for up to six months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker that requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. While premium processing is suspended, any I-907 filed with an H-1B petition will be rejected, USCIS said. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the I-907 and I-129 H-1B fees, both forms will be rejected.

USCIS reminded H-1B petitioners to follow all statutory and regulatory requirements as they prepare petitions to avoid delays in processing and possible requests for evidence. The I-129 filing fee has increased to $460, and petitioners no longer have 14 days to correct a dishonored payment. If any fee payments are not honored by the bank or financial institution, USCIS will reject the entire H-1B petition without the option for the petitioner to correct it.

The USCIS announcement about the April 3 start date for FY 2018 H-1B petitions is at https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-will-accept-h-1b-petitions-fiscal-year-2018-beginning-april-3. The announcement about the suspension of premium processing for H-1B petitions is at https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-will-temporarily-suspend-premium-processing-all-h-1b-petitions. Detailed information on how to complete and submit an FY 2018 H-1B petition is at https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/m-735.pdf. For more information on the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program and current I-129 processing times, see https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-and-fashion-models/h-1b-fiscal-year-fy-2018-cap-season

H-1B Cap Exemption Options

Many H-1B employers are not subject to the H-1B cap and are considered cap exempt. They include institutions of higher education and non-profits affiliated or related to institutions of higher education. See 214(g)(5)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Employment at a university that qualifies as an institution of higher education, as defined under section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, clearly exempts an H-1B beneficiary from the H-1B cap. What was less clear was the definition of a nonprofit entity related or affiliated to an institution of higher education. The Retention of EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers (High Skilled Worker Rule) , effective January 17, 2017, has broadened the definition of an affiliated or related nonprofit entity if it satisfies the following conditions:

  1. The nonprofit entity is connected to or associated with an institution of higher education through shared ownership or control by the same board or federation;
  2. The nonprofit entity is operated by an institution of higher education;
  3. The nonprofit entity is attached to an institution of higher education as a member, branch, cooperative, or subsidiary; or
  4. The nonprofit entity has entered into a formal written affiliation agreement with a institution of higher education that establishes an active working relationship between the nonprofit entity and the institution of higher education, and a fundamental activity of the nonprofit entity is to directly contribute to the research or education mission of the institution of higher education.

See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(8)(ii)(F)(2).

The High Skilled Worker Rule added the fourth prong, 8 CFR 214.2(h)(8)(ii)(F)(2)(iv), which  recognizes that affiliation may be demonstrated when the nonprofit enters into an agreement with the institution of higher education that establishes an active working relationship, and that a fundamental activity of the nonprofit contributes to the research or mission of the institution of higher education. This broadening of the affiliated relationship opens up the possibility of more H-1B cap exempt petitions for those who have not been able to make it under the H-1B FY 2018 cap and can be employed by nonprofit affiliated entities. Prior to the addition of the fourth prong, it was difficult to show affiliation unless the nonprofit entity was part of the institution of higher education, as defined under 8 CFR 214.2(h)(8)(ii)(F)(2)(i)-(iii).  This is no longer the case if there is a formal written affiliation with an institution of higher education even if the nonprofit is not owned by it or part of it. For example, if the nonprofit enters into an agreement with a university to house student interns, and these interns focus on activities at the nonprofit that contribute to the mission of the university, it will be possible to demonstrate affiliation. Similarly, if the nonprofit enters into agreements that conduct research for the university, such an arrangement could also qualify for showing affiliation and thus H-1B cap exemption.

INA 214(g)(5)(B) also provides for cap-exemption if the H-1B is employed or receives an offer of employment at a nonprofit research organization or governmental research organization. The High Skilled Worker Rule defines a governmental research organization as “a federal, state or local entity whose primary mission is the performance or promotion of basic research and/or applied research.” See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(19)(iii)(C).

Under INA 214(g)(6), it is further permissible for an H-1B beneficiary to be employed by a cap-exempt employer such as a university and then be able to obtain an H-1B, without being counted under the annual H-1B cap, through an employer who would otherwise be subject to the cap. The High Skilled Worker Rule affirms such concurrent employment between a cap-exempt and cap-subject H1B employer, but adds that  there must be a demonstration that the “beneficiary’s employment with the cap-exempt employer is expected to continue after the new cap-subject petition is approved, and the beneficiary can reasonably and concurrently perform the work described in each employer’s respective positions.” See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(8)(ii)(F)(6). The rule further cautions that if the cap-exemption employment is terminated or ends before the end of the validity of the petition that was approved under concurrent employment, the H-1B worker becomes subject to the numerical limitations of the H-1B, and that the USCIS may revoke the cap-subject H-1B petition. See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(8)(ii)(F)(6)(ii). Prior to the high Skilled Worker Rule, it may have been possible to argue that the H-1B worker did not become immediately subject to the numerical limitations even if concurrent cap exempt employment terminated and that he or she would only become subject to the cap upon the filing of the next H-1B petition. This is no longer the case.

Pursuant to INA 214(g)(5), an H-1B worker who is sponsored through a cap subject entity is not counted under the H-1B cap lottery if he or she is employed “at” a cap-exempt institution of higher education or is employed “at” a non-profit affiliated to an institution of higher education. The High Skilled Worker Rule affirms what is commonly referred to the “at” doctrine as the H-1B worker is working at a cap-exempt employer although he or she is the beneficiary of an H-1B petition filed by a cap-subject employer. While a plain reading of INA 214(g)(5) merely requires demonstration of employment at a cap subject employer, the High Skilled Worker Rule imposed additional requirements that are  not supported by the statutory provision. It is now required to demonstrate that the “H-1B beneficiary will spend the majority of his or work time performing job duties at a qualifying institution, organization or entity and those job duties directly and predominately further the essential purpose, mission, objectives or functions of the qualifying institution, organization or entity, namely, either higher education, nonprofit research or government research. The burden is on the H-1B petitioner to establish that there is a nexus between the duties to be performed by the H-1B beneficiary and the essential purpose, mission, objectives or functions of the qualifying institution, organization or entity.” See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(8)(ii)(F)(4). This works best where the petitioner is closely tied to a cap exempt entity, such as a startup using the research laboratory of a university who have both received joint funding, and where the H-1B beneficiary performs research at the laboratory even though sponsored for the H-1B through the startup.

Any H-1B beneficiary who has previously been counted, within the 6 years prior to the approval of a petition shall not be counted towards that limitation again, unless the individual would be eligible for a full 6 years by spending one year outside the United States. See INA 214(g)(7). This is the case even if the beneficiary never entered the United States under the previously approved H-1B petition, unless the employer notified the USCIS and the petition got revoked. The High Skilled Worker Rule adopts a 2006 USCIS Memo that gave the beneficiary a choice of either recapturing the remaining time left on the H-1B or seeking a new period of six years if the beneficiary was outside the United States for more than one year. 8 CFR 214.2(h)(13)(iii)(C)(2) like the 2016 USCIS Memo now allows recapture of remaining time left in H-1B even if the previous H-1B petition was approved more than 6 years ago, and gives the beneficiary who has been physically outside the United States for more than 1 year a choice of either recapturing the remainder of H-1B time or seeking a new period of six years.

Although H-1B cap exemption possibilities clearly exist, and have somewhat broadened under the High Skilled Worker Rule, not everyone will qualify for cap-exemption unless they are specifically offered employment through cap exempt employers or work at cap exempt entities. Most people will not get selected under H-1B lottery. For FY 2017, the USCIS received over 236,000 H-1B petitions, all vying for one of the 85,000 visas available. This means that some 151,000 or more people – highly qualified individuals with dreams and career aspirations – will likely be denied the ability to work in the US. This is not for lack of skill, this is not for lack of good moral character, but for an arbitrary cap system that limits upward mobility and stifles US economic growth and innovation in many fields