NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 21, 2010

Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents have taken on a larger role in reviewing decisions made by Citizenship and Immigration Services and the State Department in granting work visas.   In particular, CBP has been looking closely at whether individuals working outside their sponsors' offices will be under their sponsors' control or working as independent contractors, says Ben Sanders, the winter 2010 Burton C. Gray Memorial Intern at Reason Magazine. 

Consider the following scenario: 

  • Imagine arriving in the United States from India or China, prepared to start a new job as an IT consultant.
  • You have your H-1 work visa in hand, so you expect smooth sailing through customs.
  • Suddenly, you are pulled aside, questioned, and put on a flight back home.
  • To make matters worse, you are hit with a five-year ban on entering the United States.  

Critics say CBP agents lack expertise in adjudicating such claims, and they are not bound by the other agencies' guidelines.   Prospective employees from other countries must perfectly parrot what appears on their paperwork -- one more hoop to jump through in an already arduous and expensive process for highly skilled foreign workers who want to come to the United States, says Sanders. 

According to immigration attorney David Grunblatt, we are competing for talent in a global market and one of our most important weapons, the H-1 visa, has become nearly dysfunctional. 

Source: Ben Sanders, "Visa double jeopardy: employment crackdown," Reason, June 2010. 

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