The USCIS recently released its data related to Receipts, Completions, and REFs (Requests for Evidence) for fiscal years 2015 through 2019 (as of December 21, 2018) regarding nonimmigrant visas. After analyzing the data, the number of applicants receiving REFs or denials has increased in many of the visa categories, including H-1B visas. Applicants for H-1B visas may want to consult a Virginia immigration services attorney to discuss steps they can take to help avoid problems or issues that could result in denials or delays with their visa applications.
What Does the Data Reveal?
Some information gathered from the report includes:
(*reference to specific years are for the fiscal year)
The approval rate for H-1B applicants has continued to drop since 2015, even after applicants provided information in response to an RFE. The number of RFEs increased to 60 percent in the first quarter of 2019, compared to 45.6 percent just one year earlier. The denial rate for H-1B visa petitions tripled from 2015 to 2018 and doubled from 2017 to 2018.
TN visa applications appear to be under greater scrutiny in 2019 when compared to the data from 2017 (the data from 2018 to 2019 shows little change in the rates). When comparing the RFE rate for TN visas from 2015 to 2018, we see an increase in the RFE rate from 17.3 percent in 2015 to 28.2 percent in 2018. Also, the denial rate for TN visas increased from 4.9 percent in 2015 to 11.8 percent in 2018.
L-1 petitions did not see the same increase in RFEs and denials that applicants experienced who filed H-1B visa petitions. The RFE rate for the first quarter of 2019 rose to 51.8 percent from 46.1 percent for the first quarter of 2018.
What Can Visa Applicants Expect for the Remainder of 2019 and Beyond?
We have seen a steady rise in the rate of denials and RFEs for several years. However, the rates increased substantially during the fiscal year 2018, after President Trump signed his “Buy American and Hire American” executive order. In response to the executive order, the USCIS released several policy initiatives that appear to increase the scrutiny of applications by foreign nationals.
As feared, the executive order and other USCIS initiatives may continue to make it more difficult for American employers to secure approval for foreign nationals to work in the United States, even when individuals have skills or experience that are highly sought by some American employers.
However, the data from the USCIS also reveals that most nonimmigrant visa petitions eventually receive approval. To help increase the chance of approval, applicants should highlight their qualifications on the petitions that specifically relate to the positions being offered by the sponsoring employer. Employers need to be detailed when describing the employment positions they seek to fill with a foreign national so that agents reviewing the petitions can clearly see that the sponsored employee’s qualifications match the duties of the employment position.
Consult a Virginia Immigration Attorney for Help with Visa Applications
Our Virginia immigration attorneys continue to closely monitor information released regarding visa applications, including H-1B petitions. Schedule a consult with an experienced immigration attorney for assistance, guidance, and legal counsel regarding petitions and RFEs.
Posted in: Immigration