What is BAHA?
On April 18, 2017, the Trump Administration signed an Executive Order entitled “Buy American, Hire American: Putting American Workers First” (“BAHA”). The executive order has sought to create higher wages and employment rates for U.S. workers as well as protect the economic interests of the country by enforcing and administering immigration laws.
How has BAHA impacted the U.S. immigration system?
The repercussions of BAHA have cascaded throughout U.S. immigration system. There has been the rescission of deference to prior approvals for visa extensions, enhanced Fraud Detection and Prevention efforts, enhancing site visit programs for the H-1B and L-1B, and “extreme vetting” policies at U.S. consulates abroad.
How has BAHA impacted the H-1B visa program?
With respect to the H-1B “Specialty Occupation” visa, BAHA has advanced policies focused on ensuring that the H-1B visa is awarded to the most-skilled or highest paid beneficiaries. Notably, USCIS has tightened the definition of a “specialty occupation” under BAHA leading to a dramatic increase in the number of H-1B Requests for Evidence “RFEs”. Last year, USCIS shared alarming data that 60% of H-1B cases received RFEs and 40% of cases after receiving an RFE were denied. These historically high denial rates clearly suggest USCIS is seeking more information to justify a specialty occupation position.
How do I protect my company’s H-1B workforce?
WR takes pride in our extremely high approval rate and provides robust legal counsel to corporate clients throughout the H-1B process. Still, we encourage all H-1B stakeholders to become familiar with the current best practices for H-1B visa petitions under BAHA. Understanding how BAHA affects immigration procedures will allow your company to develop a more effective immigration program and can help protect against losses in productivity and unnecessary spending. To this end, WR is offering a FREE H-1B Webinar: Procedures and Updates hosted by Charina Garcia, Managing Partner of WR’s Oakland Office. The webinar will take place on January 8th at 11 am PST. Topics of the webinar include the impact of BAHA on the H-1B visa program, H-1B audits, and strategies to overcome restrictive H-1B adjudication standards.
For additional resources, please also read the following WR blogs: