USCIS has released data for the first half of fiscal year 2019 confirming that denial and RFE rates have continued to increase for nonimmigrant visa applications such as the H-1B, L visa, O Visa, and TN Visas.  The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that permits a company to hire workers in specialty occupations. This visa category requires that the beneficiary (the foreign worker) have a Bachelor’s degree, and the Petitioner (the U.S. company) can employ the worker for up to six years. This is a very popular visa because unlike many other non-immigrant visas that make applying for a green card very difficult and require foreign workers to maintain a residence in their home country, the H-1B visa permits for “dual intent.”  This dual intent allows one to apply for a green card while in the U.S. without running into problems.

According to the published data, the overall H-1B approval rate fell to 79.5%, down from the 81% in the same period in FY 2018. The RFE rate was 47.7% during the first half of the year, up about 1% from the same period last year. The approval rate after an RFE was 60.2% in the first half of the year, down just over 2% from the same period in FY 2018 This trend started after the Trump Administration’s pledge to “Buy American, Hire American”, with the USCIS director promising stricter vetting in the immigration system and policies to protect U.S. workers. USCIS will also be rolling out changes to the H-1B application process for the upcoming Cap Season in April to ensure advanced degree applicants have a higher chance of winning the lottery. Although the highly anticipated lottery registration system will wait until next year.  To learn more about H-1B visa requirements, please click here, to learn more about other options for working in the United States, please click here.

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