Everyday you hear news of how it is becoming more and more difficult to enter the States. This trend is showing no signs of relief, thanks to the Trump govt. The denial rate of H-1B visas have touched 24% in the third quarter of the current fiscal year, from 6% in FY2015. The rejection rate is recorded highest among the major Indian IT companies.
In recent findings, a US agency that administers the visa application process is denying fewer H-1B visas following stepped-up filing of lawsuits. According to several immigration lawyers, more lawsuits are being filed against the USCIS.
More Lawsuits Mount on USCIS
Deepali Khadakban, a member of an industry body representing over 1,250 small and medium staffing and IT firms doing combined business worth over $5 billion, said its member firms have taken the USCIS head-on in the last two years, filing over 133 cases challenging visa denials.
Last year, she had filed an appeal against this when an employee’s H-1B visa extension was denied but unfortunately, nothing happened. On facing the same situation again this year, she filed a lawsuit instead. This time however, the case was reopened and they got an RFE and the visa was approved after providing the documents.
Using a RFE, the USCIS asks for further evidence to ascertain if the employee requesting for an extension of their H-1B is in a specialty occupation, to know where the employer will be working during the tenure of their visa and to ensure that the employee is indeed working for the employer sponsoring their visa.
H-1B Visa Denials Show No Improvement
The USCIS follows an October-September fiscal calendar. In the first quarter of fiscal year 2020, out of the total number of RFEs that it had sought, the agency granted H1-B visas to 67.2% of applicants.
In financial year 2018, the approval rate was only 62.4%, according to USCIS data. In 2015, on the other hand, 83.2% of the RFEs sought by USCIS were granted H1-B visas.
The administration in the United States has emboldened the USCIS to be “more and more arbitrary and combative”, which will have a chilling effect on US-based companies debating whether or not to file an H-1B.
Further, instead of denying petitions, USCIS issued Requests for Evidence (RFEs) for many cases. USCIS data up to September 30, 2019 had shown that RFEs were asked for in 40.2% of cases as compared to just 22.3% in 2015 and 38% last year.
The approval rates following RFEs too, have fallen significantly from 83.2% in 2015 to 65.4% in 2019.