The H-1B visa approval in 2019 has become more stringent than ever before. The USCIS after reviewing the H-1B visa programme, has come up with a number of policy and regulatory changes to carry out the President Donald Trump’s: “Buy American, Hire American” initiative, including a conscientious review of employment-based visa programmes. The work permit H-4 visa for spouses of H-1B visa holders and the lottery system that selects beneficiaries of the programme every year will be impacted based on such a policy initiative.
If the data from the approval rate of I-129 petitions, a requirement for H-1B workers for initial employment and work extensions in the U.S., over the last four years are any indication, it is clear that obtaining an H-1B visa has become tougher, lately.
For example, in the first quarter of 2019, out of the 1,01,027 I-129 petitions, only 75% were approved during the ‘initial phase’ - the lowest in the last 17 quarters, compared to the 90% not so long ago. Approval in the initial phase would mean that the immigration officers have not found a reason to Request for Evidence (RFE).
In comparison, almost 60% of all petitions were requested for evidence in the first quarter of 2019 - the highest in the last 17 quarters. Of those petitions which needed RFE, only 61.5% were approved in Q1 2019 - again, one of the lowest rates in the last four years.
|COMPANY||PETITIONS DENIED||% DENIED|
|COMPANY||PETITIONS DENIED||% DENIED|
This may hardly seem surprising given the kind of crackdown IT industry has seen in recent times. However, it is not only having a huge impact on the new applications but also renewals of H-1B visas, say, immigration experts.
This time, it is more about the decline in approval rate for visas based on the data released by the US Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS).
The decline in approval rate for H-1B renewals will impact half a million non-immigrants residing in the US, and renewal of visas, that was automatic until now, may take up to a year. There are at least 150,000-200,000 H-1B visas up for renewal every year. This makes employers pay close attention to the RFE and fortify their business processes to avoid rejects.
According to the Wall Street Journal report, close to 60 percent of companies that applied for a visa on behalf of foreign workers received requests for additional information in the last quarter of 2018. The approval rate has dropped down to 75 percent in the final quarter of 2018 from 83 percent in 2017 and 92 percent in 2016.
As a result, we are witnessing an increase in demand for an EB-5 visa (the investor Visa) since 2015, where it stood over 200 to 850 in 2018. While the investor visa was made available for people who can invest $500,000 or more, an everyday employer looking to employ highly skilled workers are looking at alternative ways to tackle the RFE problems, especially during Visa Renewals.
Request For Evidence (RFE) is a communication form between the United States Customs and Immigration services and a petitioner via which USCIS requests the petitioner for additional information necessary for the judgement of a petition.
To deal with the USCIS and the Immigration Law could be a challenging task for many. The RFE process brings in additional attention on your H-1B visa application and it is safe to say that the examination increases tenfold, without a guarantee for approval.
Sometimes, RFE forms present questions that are completely vague and to answer exactly what the USCIS expects to hear might be impossible. For all these reasons put forth, the best way to tackle an RFE is to avoid them in the first place.
While it may be impossible to avoid the RFEs altogether, there is about 20 odd percent of the applications that have managed to do so. Most of them are big companies with legal and human resources departments armed with every tool that they need at their disposal to successfully avert such situations. Not to mention the time and the budget available at their disposal.
However, the small and medium employers, though are eligible for the H-1B programme, are the ones who face issues for their applications. Most of the time, their need to attract and retain talent becomes a harder battle since they don’t have the exact tools and resources like their bigger counterparts. This affects their market competitiveness and that is a common truth for the small and medium enterprises as a whole.
While the employment of a non-immigrant worker is not stopped, thanks to the new rule changes, the hurdles pose an uncertain and complicated environment. Employers, big and small, will do well to focus on every compliance detail to ensure that the data they present to the USCIS is complete, valid and complies with the legal requirements.
As you start your renewal process on behalf of your employees, details such as "employer-employee relationship”, especially from the right to control aspects of the relationship, labor condition application from appropriate wages and benefits, specialty occupation information from an employability viewpoint among many others.
RightComply helps to maintain the employer-employee relationship and ensures visa document compliance for both the employer and the employee.
RightComply ensures continued compliance monitoring and helps you to manage and track the documents during any time of the year. RightComply helps you to get the documents ready for approval. RC maintains compliance as per the requirements of the United States Customs and Immigration Services. We also help you with H-1B files storage and management ensuring Visa Worker Compliance. RightComply is a mature product. It employs the industry standard machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to thoroughly address the issue across the contingent workforce market. Visit us at https://www.rightcomply.com
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