The rate at which H-1B visas have been denied over the past few years has been on the increase. As of 2015, denial rates were 6%. By the first quarter of 2019, denial rates were up to 32%. The agency in charge of considering H-1B applications, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) claims that nothing has changed in its approach towards adjudicating cases, but we all know that the position of the President, towards immigrants, has affected its operations. Laws are being interpreted in different ways, qualifiers are being placed on original requirements, and standards of review are being raised.
Speaking about this, the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) said in a statement:
‘If the goal of the Trump administration is to make it much more difficult for well-educated foreign nationals to work in technical fields, then USCIS is accomplishing that goal’
The change started with the ‘Buy American, Hire American’ executive order that the President signed in April 2017. It required the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize foreign citizens who are the most skilled or the highest paid in the award of H-1B visas.
The largest demographic group affected by this policy are Indians, most of whom are highly skilled techies. They are now shifting focus to Canada which has an Express Entry program. The 4 biggest software services exporters from the country; Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, HCL Technologies, Wipro; have all seen half their applications rejected in the past year.
American companies, especially those involved in consulting, recruiting, and staffing have been the most affected. A good number of their applications on behalf of clients have been rejected. EY saw its application denial rates rise from 0.3% in 2015 to 44% in 2019. Microsoft saw its denial rates increase from 1% to 13%.
One company had its application rejected 6 months after it applied. By that time, the client had already moved on, rather than waiting for workers whose position was in limbo. When the government got wind of the situation, they accused the company in question of lying in their application and then proceeded to revoke the application on the grounds of fraud.
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- August 19th, 2019