US employers have welcomed the news that research analysts will be added to the H1B visa speciality occupation list. A federal court in the Northern District of California recently approved a settlement under which United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agreed to classify ‘market research analyst’ as a speciality occupation.
The decision has been described as a ‘major victory’ for US companies that rely on the H1B visa system. Under previous rules, the USCIS did not recognise market research analysts as a ‘speciality occupation’.
However, the settlement means that US firms can now ask USCIS to reopen and adjudicate the cases of overseas market research analysts who were previously denied an H1B visa.
Leslie K. Della, a senior business immigration attorney at the American Immigration Council, said: “This settlement is an important victory that will benefit hundreds of American businesses and the market research analysts they sought to employ.”
“The settlement gives US businesses another chance to have their H1B market research analyst petitions approved — this time under new guidance worked out by the parties to the lawsuit. Each H1B petition reopened and approved will represent another opportunity for US employers and the workers they sponsored to advance their business objectives,” she added.
The class-action lawsuit against the USCIS was filed by the American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and a number of other law firms.
One of the plaintiffs said: “This settlement finally resolves an issue on which US immigration advocates have been battling the government for years. It strikes the right balance between what the regulations actually say and how employers evaluate a candidate’s professional qualifications in the real world.”
“It is our sincere hope that USCIS will now interpret other speciality occupations from a perspective that is in line with what actually happens in the free market,” the plaintiff added.
H1B visa issues
News of the settlement comes after Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, raised a number of H1B visa issues when meeting with US President Joe Biden for the first time in Washington recently.
In recent years, H1B visa access for Indian nationals has become increasingly difficult, especially during the Trump-era. Modi spoke to Biden about getting more Indian professionals into the US. In particular, he focused on the US H1B visa scheme, which many Indian tech firms with operations in the US rely on to hire highly skilled foreign labor.
Meanwhile, another lawsuit filed against the USCIS recently challenged the denial of work authorization for the spouses of H1B and L1 visa holders.
In this case, 16 plaintiffs claimed that USCIS had violated the law, leaving many people in a precarious position and facing unemployment.
According to the lawsuit, USCIS was accused of ‘taking away highly educated and skilled workers from their employers at a time when America is in the grip of a labor shortage’.
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