THE NEUFELD MEMO REVISITED AND THE H-1B VISA CLIMATE: The New Face of Enforcement in the H-1B World.

As a result of increased site visits and a general inclination to decrease the number of H-1B’s approved, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) published a watershed memo on January 8th, 2010 (“the Neufeld Memo”). The Neufeld Memo radically changed the way that H-1B’s were adjudicated. The Neufeld Memo also put enormous pressure on employers to satisfy additional evidence requirements justifying any work performed by an H-1B visa holder off of the H-1B visa petitioner’s premises. Additionally, the Neufeld Memo added additional requirements for H-1B petitioners to obtain H-1B extensions. It is this author’s opinion that as a result of this Neufeld Memo, employers will see automatic requests for evidence in any case where the beneficiary may be performing offsite work and for any H-1B visa extension petition. It continues to be our strong recommendation that employers add a section to their H-1B petitions which cover the issues addressed by the Neufeld Memo. Even one and one half years after this Memo was promulgated.

USCIS is still concerned about whether or not there is a valid employer-employee relationship. The Neufeld Memo basically states that hiring a person to work in the United States requires more than merely paying the wage or placing that person on the payroll of the H-1B petitioning organization. In considering whether or not there is a valid “employer-employee relationship” for purposes of H-1B petition adjudication, USCIS must determine if the employer exercises a sufficient level of “control” over the prospective H-1B employee. Clearly, if the employee will be working “on site” in the H-1B petitioner’s office, doing specific tasks for the petitioner, this will not be viewed as raising a “control” issue. However, with the publication of the Neufeld Memo, it remains our opinion that all employers need to address the “control” issue upon initial submission of an H-1B petition to the USCIS.

The prospective H-1B petitioner organization must be able to establish that it has the “right to control” when, where, and how the prospective H-1B nonimmigrant beneficiary will perform the professional and specialty occupation job and the USCIS will consider the following items to make such a determination (with no one of the following factors being decisive with regard to the issue of “control”) :

(1) Does the potential H-1B petitioner supervise the prospective H-1B beneficiary and is such supervision off-site or on-site?

(2) If the supervision is off-site, how does the petitioner maintain such supervision, i.e. weekly calls, reporting back to main office routinely, or site visits by the petitioner?

(3) Does the petitioner have the right to control the work of the beneficiary on a day-to-day basis if such control is required?

(4) Does the petitioner provide the tools or instrumentalities needed for the beneficiary to perform the duties of employment?

(5) Does the petitioner hire, pay, and have the ability to fire the beneficiary?

(6) Does the petitioner evaluate the work-product of the beneficiary, i.e. progress/performance reviews?

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