USCIS Offering Data About H-1B Employers Online

USCIS launches new H-1B Employer Data Hub that allows the public to look up organizations that have hired H-1B workers

** LEGAL UPDATE **

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched a new H-1B Employer Data Hub in April, 2019 as one part of its efforts "to increase transparency in employment-based visa programs."

If you're seeking H-1B employment in the U.S., this is one possible place to research the companies hiring H-1B workers. However, that's not it's original intended purpose. The policy behind the new website is to provide a public portal where anyone can search for visa-related data on organizations that hire H-1B workers, by entering the employer's name, location (city, state, or zip code), or NAICS code on the website's search page.

NAICS refers to the North American Industry Classification System, which federal agencies use to categorize and keep statistics on U.S. businesses. The NAICS likely will be the least useful method to most persons in searching for H-1B employers.

No doubt recognizing how difficult it would be to interpret and make sense of the data, USCIS created a separate page, "Understanding our H-1B Employer Data Hub." It explains the Data Hub and how USCIS collects and organizes the information, includes a helpful glossary to the myriad technical terms and abbreviations used on the Data Hub. And of course, it includes a disclaimer that the data may not be entirely accurate.

To access the data, visitors to the website can either use the search page to find targeted information on specific employers or locations, or download an entire fiscal year's data. The data goes back to the fiscal year 2009 (October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009).

The entire fiscal year data downloads are in spreadsheets that can run tens of thousands of rows. In both the specific search and fiscal year data reports, the lists include the fiscal year and the employer's name, location, NAICS code, and Federal Employer Identification Number (last four digits only).

The data also contains information concerning which types of petitions the employer submitted to USCIS and whether USCIS approved or denied the petitions.

The Data Hub presents the approval/denial information in two categories: Initial and Continuing Petitions.

Initial petitions include employers bringing in an H-1B worker from overseas or requesting a "change of status" from one temporary visa category, such as F-1 international student, to H-1B worker.

Continuing petitions include employers requesting an extension or amendment of status for current employees to allow them to continue working in the same or a different job. Continuing petitions also include employers hiring an H-1B worker who currently is working for another employer under an H-1B visa.

Reading between the lines, the H-1B Employer Data Hub may well represent continued fallout from President Trump's Buy American and Hire American Executive Order from April 18, 2017, which directed USCIS to award H-1B visas to the "most-skilled or highest-paid" persons.

While the data does not contain information concerning the actual H-1B workers, the Trump administration has systematically made the lawful immigration system more difficult and burdensome for employers sponsoring foreign national employees. Therefore, this new Data Hub might be yet another way to intimidate employers, by publishing information about their hiring practices, perhaps to discourage their use of lawful immigration options to hire and retain the skilled workers they need.

To be sure, whether such a strategy can succeed will depend largely upon how those who access the data use it to further their agendas.

Effective Date: April 1, 2019