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Ashwin Sharma quoted by the Times of India on USCIS’s latest Policy Memo, a Major Victory for H-1B Consulting Firms/Employees

I was quoted today in a Times of India article on USCIS’s issuance of a game-changing new policy memorandum yesterday in which it rescinds and replaces two previous policy memoranda (2010, 2018) regarding the adjudication of H-1B petitions for professionals assigned to third-party job sites.

Among its other directives, the memo instructs USCIS officers to stop requiring H-1B employers to provide job itineraries for H-1B candidates as well as private contractual documentation between third-party client/vendor companies. The memo advises USCIS officers to refrain from issuing ridiculously short approval durations in these cases (as little as 1-2 months). The memo also makes it easier for an H-1B employer to demonstrate an eligible Employer-Employee relationship with its H-1B employee.

In summary: though USCIS still maintains arrows in its quiver to target the H-1B program, the new guidance represents extremely positive news for H-1B stakeholders, particularly those within the consulting industry. The policy guidance is effective immediately, and applies to any pending or new requests for H-1B classification, including motions on and appeals of revocations and denials of H-1B classification.

Ashwin Sharma Quoted by the Times of India Regarding Issues Faced by Laid-Off H-1B Workers

“Sharma also said H-1B employees face another challenge. The inability of an employee to continue working and retaining insurance benefits because of USCIS’s historic delays in adjudicating extensions (again, for the H-1B in particular, the present unavailability of the premium processing option leaves H-1B employers and employees in a very difficult predicament). “The USCIS’s delay can severely impact an H-1B/EAD (employment authorisation document), employee’s ability to maintain their employment and associated insurance benefits by placing them in a gray area – they may be lawful to remain in the USA during this time, but they cannot work until USCIS approves their H-1B or EAD in these cases,” he said.”

Link to TOI Article

Ashwin Sharma quoted in the Times of India re: the President’s Immigration Suspension and the possible future impact to Nonimmigrant visas such as the H-1B

“Ashwin Sharma, Jacksonville-based immigration attorney, told TOI, “At present the proclamation has left untouched the vulnerable visas in the non-immigrant categories. However, section 6 of the proclamation is deeply concerning as it leaves the door open to a future attack on the H-1B and other work visas.”

Sharma hopes that the President has no further plans to attack the H-1B and other non-immigrant visas under the guise of ‘protecting the American worker’. He wondered whether the proclamation is a subtle and first test of the waters. According to him, US will need its skills gap filled by H-1B and other professional workers in the long recovery from the ravages of Covid-19.”

Attorney Sharma quoted again by the Times of India about the Presidential Proclamation Suspending Entry of Certain Immigrants (formerly known as the “Immigration Ban”)

“Ashwin Sharma, Florida based immigration attorney told TOI, “As per this proclamation, the categories most impacted would include green cards for parents and siblings of US citizens, and for spouses and children of green card holders.” 

Sharma says, “The Presidents proclamation is illogical. It characterizes a 65-year-old parent of a US citizen as a greater threat to the American worker than the same US citizen’s 20-year-old son. The proclamation is also disingenuous in that in that it is attempting to rebrand the existing processing delays caused by Covid-19 as a targeted ‘suspension’ to shift public scrutiny away from the administration’s delays in addressing the pandemic, and onto its favourite scapegoat, immigrants.” 

Read the TOI Article

 

Ashwin Sharma quoted by the Times of India on President Trump’s Threat to issue Executive Order Banning Immigration during the Pandemic

Ashwin Sharma, Jacksonville based immigration attorney told TOI,

“This is the umpteenth incarnation of this same threat and this one in particular seems toothless and impotent, though it’s always an effective dogwhistle for his anti-immigration supporters.  Anytime President Trump needs an escape from facts and critics, he is quick to break the glass door labelled “Break in Case of Emergency” to whip out an executive order on Immigration.  

Sharma added, “The simple fact is that courts will block any such overbroad executive order.  Plus immigrants aren’t exactly lining up to get into America at the moment.  And the ones that are here are helping American companies stay afloat, treating American COVID19 patients, researching virus cures, supporting healthcare technology, delivering food and supplies, and other key roles.”

Continue to TOI Article

UPDATE: AILA REPORTS VSC OPEN — ORIGINAL POST: AILA Reports that USCIS’s Vermont Service Center Is Temporarily Closed on April 10, 2020 due to COVID19

UPDATED POST

Via AILA.org – April 13, 2020

“Last week, USCIS informed employees about a presumed positive COVID-19 case in the Vermont Service Center (VSC), but the test results came back negative. The VSC is now able to accept files and/or any other form of correspondence.”

ORIGINAL POST

Via AILA.org – April 10, 2020

“AILA has received reports from various members that the Vermont Service Center (VSC) has been closed due to a potential COVID-19 exposure.

VSC will likely be closed at least until Wednesday April 15, 2020, for cleaning. During this time, it appears that mail cannot be delivered to the VSC. AILA National has reached out to USCIS for confirmation and further guidance on how filings should be handled in the interim. Updates will be provided as soon as more information is available.”

On behalf of myself and other Immigration Lawyers across the US: our prayers are with the VSC Staff.  The volume of complex cases they assess and adjudicate every day is underappreciated, as is the critical importance of their work.  We hope this issue is cleared up soon, and that the people at VSC are safe.

 

 

Ashwin Sharma2020Ultimate AttorneyBestoftheBaraward

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Ashwin Sharma was selected as one of the Recipients of the 2020 Jacksonville Business Journal’s Ultimate Attorney: Best of the Bar Award

Lubna Kably (Times Of India) explores the ignoble treatment of Indian professionals in and by the US following Pres. Trumps visit to India

Via Lubna Kably, TOI Opinions

“Su Chhe (What’s up) President Donald Trump? Given your rhetoric that India is hitting USA very hard, it looks like you are not in a good mood. Perhaps, our crowds will cheer you up.

Of course, there are jokes on twitter, that if you want crowds, you should visit Dadar railway station in Mumbai, during peak hours. But this is just a few tweeple being mean. Indians believe in hospitality and are kind hosts, even if the host for the event at Ahmedabad’s cricket stadium appears to be a mysterious Nagarik Abhivadan Samiti.

Yes, we know you danced to ‘My Way’ at the inauguration ball, but savvy leaders like you are aware that it takes two to waltz gracefully. It is understandable that you do want Indian-Americans (those who are now USA citizens) to vote for you, yet your administration is hitting hard those Indians who are in USA on work visas (especially H-1B), on H-4 or the dependant visa largely held by spouses and children of H-1B workers, and even those on student visas.”

Continue reading article

Ashwin Sharma quoted by Canadian news magazine Macleans regarding the Dual-Citizenship held by one of the candidates for Canadian Prime Minister

Link to article: https://www.macleans.ca/politics/andrew-scheer-canadas-first-american-prime-minister/

Quoted by the Times of India on DC District Court’s Decision to overturn USCIS’s H-1B Specialty Occupation denial in RELX, Inc. v. Baran

I was quoted in a Times of India article on U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia’s decision to overturn USCIS’s denial (on Specialty Occupation grounds) in RELX, Inc. d/b/a/ LexisNexis USA, and Subhasree Chatterjee v. Baran et al.  A recent blog entry I wrote on about case may be found here.

Relx, Inc. and Chatterjee v. Baran, 8/5/19 – DC District Court Judge Granted Summary Judgment to the Plaintiffs and Denied Government’s Motion to Dismiss in H-1B Denial

Recently, Judges at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued starkly contrasting decisions in two separate H-1B lawsuits.  Both Sagarwala v. Cissna and RELX, Inc. d/b/a/ LexisNexis USA, and Subhasree Chatterjee v. Baran et al and arose from H-1B petitions that had been denied by the USCIS on “Specialty Occupation” grounds.  Both also appear to have also been filed using the subcategories within the miscellaneous SOC Occupational Classification of 15-1199.00 – Computer Occupations, All Other — a somewhat troublesome classification to establish as a Specialty Occupation, primarily because the USCIS’s Undisputed Holy Book of Professional Occupations, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (“OOH”), does not maintain a detailed description of this classification’s educational requirements.

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