We have new immigration data showing what has been going over the last couple of years through the most recent government fiscal year of 2019. Although denial rates for H-1B, L-1, O, and TN visas, as well as Requests for Evidence (RFEs) increased, it remains possible to craft a strong strategy and win.
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The number of H-1B visa petitions—both new petitions and renewals—submitted to USCIS remained about the same in FY 2019 compared to FY 2018. Between FY 2015 and FY 2019, the number of H-1B petitions submitted increased by more than 14 percent.
In FY 2019, the USCIS denial rate for H-1B petitions remained high at 15.6 percent, more than three times the denial rate in FY 2015. The high denial rate for H-1Bs continued in the first quarter of FY 2020, which ended in December 2019, at 16.6 percent.
In FY 2019, the denial rate for initial H-1B petitions (excluding renewals) dropped to about 21 percent from FY 2018, more than triple the FY 2015 denial rate.
The denial rate for H-1B renewals remained lower than the denial rate for new H-1B petitions. However, it remains at an all-time high of nearly 12 percent.
In addition to the higher denial rates for H-1Bs, USCIS continues to issue more Requests for Evidence (RFEs). And that trend continued into the first quarter of FY 2020 with USCIS issuing RFEs for nearly half of all H-1B petitions it received.
The denial rate for L-1 visas reached an all-time high in FY 2019. The high denial rate for L-1 visas continued during the first quarter of FY 2020.
In contrast to the other visas mentioned here, the denial rate for O visas has remained relatively stable at less than 10 percent since FY 2015.
The denial rate for TN (Treaty National) visas remained relatively flat in FY 2019 compared to FY 2018. In the first quarter of FY 2020, the denial rate for TN visas continued to rise.
Similar to the H-1B visa, the E-3 visa enables companies to hire Australians for specialty occupations. The demand for E-3 visas rarely meets or exceeds the annual cap of 10,500. However, the number of E-3 visas issued rose nearly 8 percent in FY 2019, according to the State Department. Neither USCIS nor the State Department makes the approval and denial rates for this visa category available.
Administered by the State Department, the J-1 exchange visitor program promotes knowledge and cultural exchange between the U.S. and other countries through work and education. No statutory cap exists on the number of J-1 visas issued annually. The number of J-1 visas issued in FY 2019 increased slightly from the previous fiscal year.
The Alcorn Immigration Law team devises immigration solutions that allow people to legally live, work, and thrive in the U.S. We enable people to seize the opportunities that fulfill their dreams and expand their lives. Reach out to us if we can help you.