WASHINGTON (CN) – The federal government changed its H-1B visa policy “without notice and [without seeking] comment,” to stop staffing companies from bringing in engineers, nurses and other trained workers the country needs, five software and consulting companies claim in Federal Court. The new rule prohibits employers from sponsoring workers if they will work at “third party worksites.”
Plaintiffs Broadgate, Logic Planet, DVR Softek, the Techserv Alliance and the American Staffing Association say the Department of Homeland Security and its creature, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, violated the Administrative Procedures Act by its sudden rule change.
The plaintiffs say that many of the workers affected “come to the United States on a temporary visa because there are in insufficient number of United States citizens in that profession and geographic location,” and that the illegally implement new policy will hurt entire business sectors.
They say their workers fill needs for a variety of specialty occupations, including software engineers and analysts, IT professionals, dentists, medical technicians, home health aides and therapists.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing claims the United States will have a shortage of 260,000 nurses by 2025.
The plaintiffs say the new policy has already caused several visa renewal application denials because the companies are no longer recognized as “real employers.”
The new visa policy defines a qualified employee visa sponsor as a company that may “hire, pay, fire, supervise, or otherwise control the work of any such employee.”
The staffing companies say the rules were changed by a Jan. 8 memorandum this year, leaving them unable to petition for visas because they “lack the necessary control over their employees.”
The United States “has denied and will continue to deny renewal H-1B visa applications to those with specialty occupations, such as software engineers and nurses, sponsored by staffing and consulting firms,” according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs want Uncle Sam enjoined from enforcing its new policy, at least until it complies with the Administrative Procedure Act.
They want an injunction enjoining the U.S. from implementing and enforcing the rule change.
The companies are represented by Robert Charrow of Greenberg Traurig.