USCIS Releases Policy Memo on H-1B Availability for "Computer Programmers"

April 5, 2017

The USCIS has recently released a policy memo addressing the availability of H-1B classification for “computer programmers.” This memo has received substantial press coverage and created a great deal of concern among tech companies and foreign workers. Contrary to some of the press stories, the memo does not change existing USCIS policy. For several years, the USCIS has found that most positions identified as computer programmers do not meet threshold for H-1B. To qualify for an H-1B, the position offered must require at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific field. The USCIS’ interpretation is based on its reading of the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), which says that some employers will accept less than a bachelor’s degree for computer programmer positions. This contrasts the occupational category of Software Developer, which the OOH says “usually” requires a bachelor’s degree.  
Goeschl Law Corporation does not file any H-1B petitions using the occupational category of computer programmer, and we do not expect this memo to directly impact our clients.

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