The U.S. Department of Labor plans on destroying H-1B records after five years, in accordance with a new policy.
In an Oct. 17 posting on its website, the Department of Labor also noted that the Labor Condition Applications Online System, which contains many of the Labor Condition Applications (LCA) used by prospective H-1B employers, has been shut down. The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) will “no longer respond to inquiries to search for records in response to FOIA requests, or provide information for requests for duplicate certifications for LCA applications processed in the LCA Online System.”
As Patrick Thibodeau noted over at Computerworld, researchers depend on LCA records to accurately analyze the long-term wax and wane of the H-1B market. “These are the only publicly available records for researchers to analyze on the demand by employers for H-1B visas with detail information on work locations,” Neil Ruiz, who researches visa issues for The Brookings Institution, told Thibodeau.
Those researchers find the decision to make H-1B records “temporary” a perplexing one, especially as H-1B visa-holders can stay in the United States for as long as six years, with the possibility of further extensions under certain circumstances. In theory, a current H-1B holder could see his or her records destroyed before completing a stay.
The debate over H-1B visas is an emotional one for many U.S. tech workers. In order to help debunk myths and offer an accurate picture of the program’s effects, researchers need as much data as possible—a goal that the federal government just made much harder.
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