The USCIS California Service Center recently changed the way it interprets H-1B requirements when job location changes, but duties and all other employment terms remain the same.

Previously, according to a 2003 USCIS memo, a simple change in job location did not require that a new petition be filed with USCIS.  The employer was required to analyze prevailing wage for the new location, file a new Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor, and post the required LCA notice at the new work site, but did not have to file an amended petition with USCIS.

Under the CSC’s new interpretation, changes in job location alone do require amended petitions. In fact, employers are reporting site audits and revocation of H-1B petitions when USCIS inspectors could not find the H-1B worker at the work site listed in the petition. At this point, no other USCIS service center has followed suit.

Law, regulations and long-standing USCIS guidance still indicate that no amended petition should be required when only job location changes. However, to avoid adverse consequences – at least, until the CSC revisits its controversial new interpretation – employers should consult with competent immigration counsel whenever an H-1B worker’s job location changes, in order to determine whether any amended filings are required. For the same reasons, employers should be certain to make counsel aware of all possible work sites for each new H-1B worker at the outset of the H-1B process.