By Pam Prather
The US Consulate in Hyderabad has started requiring applicants for some H-1B visas to sign an attestation about their work conditions. This attestation, if erroneous, could expose them to a lifetime ban from the United States.
Applicants who will be working at a third-party client site in the US (usually IT specialists) have been subject to increased scrutiny regarding the employer-employee relationship in the last couple of years. In 2010, the USCIS issued a memo defining the required employer-employee relationship for H-1B visas. It included a description of how that relationship was to be maintained if an employee was assigned to a third party, or to an off-site client location. In response, USCIS adjudicators started focusing more closely on things like who pays the employee, and who controls or supervises their work.
Now, in Hyderabad, the stakes in applying for an H-1B visa are very high. If an applicant guesses about certain information and is wrong (or intentionally provides false information, of course), he/she could face a permanent bar from the US.
Not all applicants know and understand the full extent of their work conditions in the US. What if they provide what they think is the right answer, or what the consular official wants to hear, and turn out to be wrong? They could be barred forever from the United States, for misrepresentation. Any assumption by the H-1B employee could be the death knell not just for his or her visa, but for their ability to ever visit the US again.