In 2019, the large policy and enforcement shifts signposted in 2017 and 2018 continued to play out with stricter immigration enforcement across the board. While we don’t expect to see seismic shifts in the coming year, there are a few issues to watch for in 2020.

(1) H-1B “Specialty Occupation” Definition Change Likely to Stall in Court

USCIS has indicated it will be announcing an official change to the definition of “specialty occupation.” While we have already seen a detrimental shift in the H-1B adjudication process, this would be an official regulatory change. We expect that any attempt to re-interpret the H-1B statute as narrowly as possible will face a lengthy court battle.


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On February 20, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) submitted its proposed regulation to remove work authorization for certain H-4 spouses to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It is likely that OMB will complete its review within 30 days.

What happens next?

Once OMB completes its review, the proposed regulation will be

Due to the upcoming temporary suspension of premium processing for all H-1B petitions on April 3, 2017, USCIS has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of premium processing cases it has received. The Nebraska Service Center, which processes all H-1B extension petitions for non-cap exempt employers containing no changes to the beneficiary’s terms of employment, has announced that it will focus its resources on processing H-1B petitions in accordance with premium processing requirements.
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