On August 15, 2019, United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) formally announced the return of all rejected H-1B cases who lost in the H-1B lottery this fiscal year. The lottery was completed on 11th April 2019. Here’s a quick recap of the H-1B Season 2019-20:
More petitions were filed
201,011 foreign nationals put in an application for an H-1B visa this season – that’s 10,913 more visa applications than USCIS received during the 2018-19 H-1B season. The number of H-1B visa applications is this high for the first time in two years; only 190,098 petitions were submitted to USCIS in FY 2018, compared with 199,000 petitions in FY 2017. The reason for this rise in H-1B visa applications is that most tech companies in the States are experiencing shortages of capable specialty workers. Of course, as the IT sector in the US becomes larger, so does the need for a qualified and highly-skilled workforce.
More applications were denied
Even though many H-1B petitions are still getting approved, rigorous H-1B guidelines have led to a significant decline in approvals this year. According to USCIS data, in the first quarter of FY 2019, the denial rate for H-1B applicants was 32%, compared with a mere 6% in FY 2015 and 24% in FY 2018. The dramatic drop in approvals can be attributed to the growing labor needs of U.S. establishments that are the largest contributors to the U.S. economy.
Spike in RFEs
Receipt of a Request for Evidence (“RFE”) from USCIS is an indication that the applicant’s H-1B visa is in hot water. In most instances, an RFE implies that the applicant has not accurately addressed the legal requirements underpinning the H-1B visa category. In other instances, it can suggest that USCIS discovered inconsistent or conflicting details when it compared the many supporting documents the applicant submitted as against the forms and covering letter, or as against information in the public domain. In a few exceptional instances, it can also indicate that the H-1B is not the right visa category for the applicant’s specific situations. In any case, an RFE hit on the application can delay the visa approval. Approvals of completed H-1B applications hit with an RFE have escalated noticeably in the first quarter of FY 2019. In 2015, just about 22% of applicants received a request from USCIS for RFE, whereas in the first quarter of FY 2019, that figure hit 60%.
The Impact ? Tech Companies Going Abroad
The increase in H-1B petitions filed, denied and hit with an RFE makes it evident that President Trump’s efforts to limit immigration are not confined to just to undocumented immigrants at the U.S. southern border.
Not surprisingly, tech companies are going to Canada and or having tech workers work from abroad due to the frustration and stymieing going on with the current system. According to a Time Magazine report, the loss of access to high tech workers could have a significant long term effect on our economy. “The risk of losing out on the fruits of innovation to Canada and other countries that are more welcoming to immigrants might be a bigger problem for our economic future than a flood of refugees. Half of America’s annual GDP growth is attributed to rising innovation.”
Unfortunately, the H-1B process is the main method to bring working professionals to the United States in a quick manner. We continue to keep on top of the most recent trends and changes in the H-1B process and our team of experts at the Law Office of Catherine Brown LLC are here to help with your H-1B. We can assist you with everything from wage issues, obligations, obtaining and posting the Labor Condition Application, filing the H-1B with USCIS and providing advice on how to maintain your H-1B status.
Contact immigration attorney Catherine Brown today at 303-322-2117 for a free case review on your next H-1B or existing H-1B status.