The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department issued a memorandum over the weekend that requires companies to prove that the computer programming job they are filling with a H-1B foreign worker meets the advanced knowledge and experience qualifications of the H-1B visa program. This will provide more scrutiny to computer programmer applications to ensure they are not being hired to do simple jobs that Americans could do.

The new memo is effective immediately and all of the H-1B applications for FY18, which Dept. of Labor began processing on Monday, will be subject to the new guidelines.

This memo does not change current USCIS policy but rescinds the 2000 memo guidelines that used older data from Labor Department’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. According to the new memo the 2000 guide did not distinguish entry-level computer programing positions from more senior or complex jobs.

"This is a step in the right direction in terms of tightening up the eligibility," said Ron Hira, an associate professor at Howard University, who has done extensive research on the H-1B program. "You're going to have to beef up your argument for why you need this person."

The new guidelines will affect India-based outsourcing companies that most, since they tend to bring in more lower-wage foreign workers.

In 2015 computer programmers made up around 12% of all H-1B visas approved by the Dept. of Labor, 41% of those were for positions at the lowest wage level.

Additionally, the Department of Justice issued a memo putting tech companies on alert that the agency will investigate situations where it believes American workers have been discriminated against in favor of foreign workers.

“The Justice Department will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against U.S. workers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division. “U.S. workers should not be placed in a disfavored status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims.”

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Updated: Tue, Apr 18th 2017 @ 12:00pm EDT