Legal

Groups Sue Feds Over Anti-Staffing Rule

By Staff Report

Jun. 8, 2010

The TechServe Alliance and others filed a lawsuit Tuesday, June 8, against U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.


The suit targets a USCIS rule that information technology staffing firms are not “U.S. employers” and therefore aren’t eligible to bring in tech workers on H-1B visas.


“USCIS’ actions are a thinly veiled attack on the IT staffing industry and its business model,” said TechServe Alliance CEO Mark Roberts.


In January, a document called the Neufeld Memo reversed previous USCIS policy and determined that IT staffing firms are not “U.S. employers” allegedly because they don’t exercise control over their consultants. The memo is in contrast to other areas of law recognizing an employer-employee relationship between staffing firms and temporary workers, according to the TechServe Alliance.


The USCIS has been denying H-1B visa petitions on the basis of the memo, the TechServe Alliance reported. Requests for new H-1B visas and requests for renewals are affected.


The suit alleges that the government improperly changed long-standing policy that allowed IT staffing firms to obtain H-1B visas on the same basis as other companies. It seeks a preliminary injunction to prevent the USCIS from enforcing the rule.


In addition, the lawsuit says the USCIS didn’t follow the proper notice-and-comment rulemaking process for the rule, didn’t conduct required analysis of the rule’s impact on small entities, that the USCIS exceed its regulatory authority and that the rule is not authorized by law.


The suit also names Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas as defendants.


Roberts said the TechServe Alliance tried to reach out to the USCIS prior to the lawsuit without any luck, and at one point USCIS officials canceled a meeting with them.


“There’s just no indication they are going to rescind this policy without this action,” Roberts said.


The USCIS held two listening sessions regarding the rule this year, but both sessions took place only after the new policy had taken effect.


Joining the TechServe Alliance in the lawsuit as plaintiffs are the American Staffing Association and three IT staffing firms—Broadgate Inc., Logic Planet Inc. and DVR Softek Inc.


H-1B visas are used to bring in workers with college degrees and special skills.Messages were left at the USCIS’ national press office, but calls for comment were not returned. 


Filed by Staffing Industry Analysts, a sister company of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.


 


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