Author: Caroline Lee

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U.S. District Court Sets Aside DHS Specialty Occupation and DOL Wage Rules for H-1Bs

In October 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued the Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program Interim Final Rule revising the definition of “specialty occupation” for purposes of the H-1B visa program. Concurrently, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued the Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States Interim Final Rule, amending the regulations governing permanent labor certifications and Labor Condition Applications to incorporate changes to the computation of prevailing wage levels. Together, these rules would have set aside decades-old requirements for the H-1B program, both in terms of the definition of specialty occupation and in the computation of prevailing wage levels.

On December 1, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California set aside the DHS interim final rule and the DOL interim final rule in Chamber of Commerce, et al., v. DHS, et al. The court found that the DHS and DOL H-1B wage rules were “promulgated in violation of 5 U.S.C section 553(b),” which defines the Administrative Procedures Act’s notice and comment requirements for agency rulemaking. USCIS announced on December 4, 2020 that it will fully comply with the court’s decision. In response to the court’s order setting aside the DOL Interim Final Rule, the DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) announced its timeline for updating the FLAG system to incorporate the pre-IFR wage data. DOL must make changes to the FLAG system modules to replace the 10/8/2020-6/30/2021 wage source year data that was implemented under its interim rule, with the OES prevailing wage data that was in effect on October 7, 2020. DOL has also provided details on how to seek a redetermination of any prevailing wage determinations issued in accordance with the DOL Interim Final Rule wage system.

The attorneys at Curray York & Associates will continue to closely monitor potential changes to the H-1B program and provide updates when possible. For specific questions, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.