H1B RFEs and Denials Increase Under the Trump Administration

13. Aug. 2018

Data obtained from USCIS by the National Foundation for American Policy confirms what attorneys and employers have observed over the past year - an increase in RFEs and denials for H1B and other types petitions, beginning in Q4 2017 (July through September 2017).  Key data include:

  1. H1B RFEs: up from 22.5% in Q3 to 68.9% in Q4 2017.
  2. H1B denials: up from 15.9% in Q3 to 22.4% in Q4 2017.
  3. L1B denials: up from 21.7% in Q1 to 28.7% in Q4 2017.
  4. L1A denials: up from 12.8% in Q1 to 21.4% in Q4 2017.

The sharp rise in RFEs and denials followed Donald Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order on April 18, 2017, which has led to changes in USCIS policies and practices.  Although adjudication data for FY2018 is limited, attorneys and employers have experienced high RFE rate for H-1Bs in FY2018 (likely 80%). 

The data also showed that the RFE and denial rates for Indian nationals were higher, likely due to scrutiny of IT services/consulting companies that place employees at 3rd party worksites:

  1. 72% of H1B cases for Indian nationals received an RFE, compared to 61% for all other countries.
  2. 24% of H1B cases for Indian nationals were denied in Q4 (up from 17% in Q3), compared to 20% for all other countries.
  3. 48% of L1B cases for Indian nationals were denied in Q4, compared to 17% for all other countries.

Since the beginning of the Trump administration, USCIS has enacted a series of policies to make it more difficult for even the most highly educated scientists and engineers to work in the U.S.  This, despite the fact that 81% of full-time graduate students in electrical engineering and 79% in computer science are international students.