Spike in RFEs: Slowing H-1B Immigration (2017 USCIS Data)

As previously reported, USCIS has increased requests for additional information (through RFEs) for thousands of H-1B applicants. Following the President Trump’s executive order, BAHA (Buy American, Hire American), obtaining approval for H-1B petitions has been increasingly difficult as USCIS attempts to abide by the EO. The executive order aims to decrease the population of foreign workers in the US, and has already presented a barrier for many immigration programs. Although the Trump Administration’s efforts to increase burdens to the H-1B petition process is nothing new, 2017 USCIS data provides evidence of the extent of efforts to slow the H-1B petition process.

2017 USCIS Data

According to an article published by Quartz Media, requests for evidence, RFE, spiked last year following changes by the Trump Administration. The article notes that many H-1B applicants have complained that the requests are often unwarranted. In 2017, USCIS increased RFEs by 40% between January and November. Compared to 2015 data, the number of RFEs for H-1B petitions increased by 65% compared to last year. USCIS may issue a RFE due to lack of initial evidence or if the USCIS officer requires additional evidence to adjudicate the H-1B petition. Although an RFE does not represent a denied application, the additional request can significantly slow the H-1B application process, in some cases delaying the petition for several months.

Trump Administration and H-1B

Several reports regarding the future of H-1B visas have emerged from the generally unsupportive White House. Although a direct policy change to the H-1B petition process has yet to come to fruition, many view the increased hurdles for H-1B visas (like the spike in RFEs) as an indirect approach to steadily reduce the high skilled foreign workforce in the US. If you or your employer requires assistance responding to a RFE, feel free to schedule a consultation with our office.