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USCIS Restores Policy That Computer Programmers Qualify for H-1B Status

Published on February 8, 2021

On February 3, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the agency would once again consider computer programmer positions to qualify as a specialty occupation under the H-1B visa program. A specialty occupation is an occupation that requires attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty as a minimum requirement for entry into the occupation. This February 2021 memorandum rescinds the March 2017 USCIS policy memorandum, which instructed USCIS personnel to carefully examine whether computer programmer positions met the definition of a specialty occupation. In addition, the USCIS policy memo further claimed that entry-level computer programmer positions would generally not qualify an individual for H-1 status given that some individuals without a Bachelor’s degree may enter the occupation.

As background, prior to the March 2017 policy memorandum, USCIS had a long history of considering computer programmer positions to be specialty occupations for purposes of H-1B petition adjudication.

In its recent memorandum, USCIS officers are instructed not to apply the March 2017 policy memorandum to any pending or new H-1B petitions, motions, or appeals. We anticipate additional USCIS announcements regarding its policies regarding H-1B petitions for computer programmer positions.

If you have any questions about how new policy may impact your H-1B status and/or workforce, please contact the Immigration Team at Ryan Swanson & Cleveland.

Amy Royalty can be reached at [email protected].
Jen Chen can be reached at [email protected].
Cody Nunn can be reached at [email protected].
Marsha Mavunkel can be reached at [email protected].
Lindsay Cason can be reached at [email protected]
Janet Cheetham can be reached at [email protected].
Joel Paget can be reached at [email protected].

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This message has been released by the Immigration Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC to advise of recent developments in the law. Because each situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any specific facts and circumstances. Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC is a full-service law firm located in Seattle, Washington.

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