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USCIS Data Shows Sharp Increase in Denials and Requests for Evidence for H-1B’s

USA-H-1B-Visa (2)

A recently-issued study from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) offers data on how the Trump Administration is now aiming its anti-immigrant sights at the business community. For U.S. companies whose workforce includes H-1B workers, this report offers alarming evidence of how the Administration is twisting definitions, distorting plain meaning and using narrowed interpretations to deny applications which have been and would be readily approvable under existing law.

According to the NFAP report, denials of applications for H-1B visas as well as Requests for Evidence (RFEs) increased significantly in Q4 of FY2017, likely due to new Trump administration policies. In particular, denial of H-1B petitions increased 41% over the previous quarter, to a denial rate nearly 25%. Meanwhile, the number of Requests for Supplemental Evidence in the last three months of FY 2017 was almost equal to the number of RFE’s issued in the first nine months combined.  This represents an enormous leap in the percentage of cases receiving RFE’s, from 23% in Q3 to 69% in Q4 of FY 2017.

The steep increases in denials and RFE’s, which started July 1, 2017, came shortly after the issuance of the President’s “Buy American and Hire American” Executive Order on April 18, 2017. The data in the report does not include information for FY2018 (10/1/17 – 09/30/17), though reports from practitioners suggest that the trends are just as bad, if not worse.

The NFAP report reveals how the Administration is implementing its anti-immigrant, business-stifling agenda by limiting the admission of high-skilled foreign nationals. This in spite of the near unanimous opinions of economists, academics and business leaders who believe that America benefits from the flexible admission of foreign-born scientists, engineers and high-tech professionals.

USCIS has announced many other policy initiatives to make it more difficult for high-skilled foreign nationals to work in the United States. A recent USCIS memo on Notices to Appear could place high-skilled applicants whose applications are denied into deportation proceedings, while another new policy allows adjudicators to deny applications without even providing an opportunity for an employer to respond to a Request for Evidence.

Ultimately, the responsibility belongs to the people of the U.S. and the business community to voice their opinions and to bring pressure to bear through political channels, through the media and through their personal activism. As American citizens, if you object to the government’s actions, contact your Congressman, your Senators and the White House. For additional information on how to prepare and file a successful H-1B, contact us.

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