USCIS approves more H-1B , L-1 visas than last year, but asks for more evidence, too: Report

Courtesy of Fragomen

indica News Bureau-

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data show the approval rate of applications for H-1B visas in the second quarter of fiscal year 2020 grew by 4% over the previous year, to 87.1%, as requests for evidence (RFE)  — sent in response to the filing of a visa petition – remained high for H-1B and L-1 (nonimmigrant work visa) petitions, according to a report from New York-based international immigration law firm Fragomen.

“The overall RFE and denial trends are consistent with the Trump Administration’s directive to tighten employment-based visa eligibility under the Buy American, Hire American Executive Order,” the Fragomen report says.

The RFE rate for H1-B petitions was 35.8% in the second quarter of fiscal year 2020, up 0.5% from the same period in fiscal year2019, Fragomen reported. That remains above fiscal year 2015’s rate of 22.3%. The odds of approval after an RFE were 68.2%, up nearly 10% from the same quarter in fiscal year 2019. The rate of approvals after RFE remain well below fiscal year  2015’s rate of 83.2%, the report says.

The approval rate for L-1 petitions at USCIS Service Centers was 74.3%, up just over 2% from the same period in fiscal year 2019, and down almost 10% from fiscal year 2015’s approval rate of 83.7%, according to the report.

RFE were issued for L-1 filings at a rate of 53.6%, up 0.4% from the same period in fiscal 2019, and up almost 20% from fiscal year 2015’s overall RFE rate of 34.3%, the report says. The rate of approval after RFE was 55.3% in the second quarter of FY 2020, slightly up from Q1 of FY 2019, but generally on par with the post-RFE approval rate of recent years.

The USCIS statistics do not include outcomes from L-1 applications at U.S. consulates or ports of entry.

“Although a presidential proclamation issued late last month temporarily suspends the entry of certain immigrants and does not have an immediate impact on the H-1B, L-1 and other nonimmigrant worker programs, the proclamation directs the departments of Homeland Security and Labor to review the impact of nonimmigrant workers on U.S. workers. The results of that report could lead to future restrictions on nonimmigrant employment categories, with higher denial and RFE rates,” the report says.

Chart courtesy of Fragomen


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