U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may require employers to file amended H-1B visa petitions when relocating employees to new locations and did not fail to follow or otherwise circumvent rulemaking requirements in doing so, the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia has ruled. ITServe Alliance Inc. v. DHS, No. 22-5074 (June 27, 2023).

The H-1B nonimmigrant visa classification is for “specialty occupation” employees working under facts, terms, and conditions of employment, as certified by the U.S. Department of Labor and approved by USCIS. Just as in other employer-employee relationships, H-1B employers sometimes may need to change some fact, term, or condition of their H-1B employees’ previously approved employment. This may include a change in work location.

In 2015, in an administrative ruling in Matter of Simeio Solutions LLC, PM-602-0120, USCIS confirmed that changes in an H-1B worker’s employment location can be a “material change” requiring employers to file amended petitions. This ruling led to increased filing fees and paperwork for employers “materially changing” their employees’ work locations.

In December 2020, information technology industry group ITServe, which represents member companies that often have needs to change employees’ work locations, filed suit challenging Matter of Simeio Solutions LLC as “procedurally defective rulemaking.” In February 2022, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled USCIS had not run afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act’s notice and comment period in issuing its decision.

In ITServe Alliance Inc. v. DHS, the D.C. Circuit Court agreed, concluding that Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC constitutes “an informal adjudication resting on USCIS’s interpretation of the material change regulation” and “functions like a judicial decision interpreting an agency regulation and then applying it to resolve a case or controversy.” The three-judge panel further stated the applicable regulation on “material change” allows USCIS to “monitor changing facts,” understanding that facts, terms, and conditions of employment, when modified, are subject to further review and adjudication by the agency.

The consequence for employers is that one approved H-1B petition is not necessarily sufficient to cover the full temporal period of approval if an employee’s work location changes within that time frame and amended petitions may be necessary when such material changes occur. While employers likely have been proceeding accordingly since Matter of Simeio Solutions, LLC, the D.C. Circuit’s ruling confirms the procedural soundness of USCIS’s requirements.

If you have questions as to whether an H-1B amended petition is necessary, please reach out to your Jackson Lewis attorney.

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Photo of Forrest G. Read IV Forrest G. Read IV

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice…

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-based nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L, O, TN) for foreign national employees and work-related immigrant (green card) visas, including PERM Labor Certifications, and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations. He has broad experience in advising large, mid-size and small employers on their various immigration needs and developing strategies to help them navigate through complex immigration issues. He also has particular experience in counseling employers in the health care industry and addressing immigration-related issues that arise for their broad range of health care professional employees (including advising on and obtaining employment authorization for medical residents and fellows and obtaining J-1 visa waivers for foreign national physicians completing their medical training in the United States). His immigration practice also includes defending employers in connection with Department of Labor H-1B and H-2B investigations.

Mr. Read’s employment law experience includes representing management, particularly academic medical centers in the GME context, in a wide array of workplace disputes and litigation before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, including matters related to discrimination, retaliation, harassment, disability, family and medical leave, various wage and hour issues, contracts, and intentional torts. He advises academic medical centers on the interplay between applicable academic law and employment law and the ramifications of what are divergent legal requirements and standards. Mr. Read also provides counsel with respect to the legal impact of competency standards for residents and trainees in GME, including situations involving discipline, remediation, and dismissal. He provides advice and guidance in the peer review process, including provision of verification and assessment of training in response to third party inquiries.

As a member of the Firm’s Corporate Diversity Counseling group, Mr. Read also has experience in providing assessments and making recommendations to corporate and institutional clients with respect to diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives, conducting related internal investigations, and shaping, developing and enforcing effective policies and initiatives to ensure consistency with client values and in furtherance of business goals and objectives.