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Investigative Report: H-1B Visa Denials Rates are Skyrocketing Under the Trump Administration

On December 2nd, 2019, Mother Jones published an investigative report on the legal barriers that the Trump Administration has put into place to make it more difficult for qualified applicants to obtain H-1B visas. While the steps that the administration is taking behind the scenes are somewhat unclear, the effects are not: H-1B visa applications are being denied at a record high rate

The Data: The H-1B Visa Denial Rate has Quadrupled

An H-1B visa is a non-immigrant employment visa that is reserved for qualified workers in certain specialty occupations. Some notable examples of H-1B eligible jobs include information technology (IT) professionals, software developers, engineers, healthcare workers, consultants, and financial experts. 

Unfortunately, it is becoming more difficult to get access to an H-1B visa. Since he assumed office, President Trump has taken executive action to put bureaucratic hurdles in the path of immigrants, including skilled workers. The investigative reporting by Mother Jones provides a clear picture of the consequences of the administration’s policies. Here are the denial rates for first-time H-1B visa applicants over the last five years: 

  • 2015: 6 percent
  • 2016: 10 percent
  • 2017: 13 percent
  • 2018: 24 percent 
  • 2019: 24 percent

The dramatic increase in H-1B visa denials is not merely confined to first-time petitioners. Under President Trump, the federal government is now also denying renewals, transfers, and extensions at a record high rate. For reference, in 2015, only 3 percent of H-1B visa transfers and extensions were denied by USCIS. However, in both 2018 and 2019, denial rates for extensions and transfers jumped up to 12 percent. 

Understanding the Human Toll of the Trump Administration’s Policies

Mother Jones profiles the story of immigrants of Indian national origin whose real name was not disclosed to protect his identity. His situation demonstrates the human toll of the Trump Administration’s anti-immigrant policies. Referred to as ‘Samir’ in the article, he previously held an H-1B which was sponsored by a large American insurance company, working eight years in that position. 

In 2018, his employer transferred him to one of its subsidiaries—a lateral position based in North Texas. As a result of the company’s transfer, Samir had to seek a transfer of his H-1B visa. Shockingly, despite the seemingly routine nature of his application, he was denied. Without much justification, he was deemed by USCIS to be ‘unqualified’ for his new position. This despite the fact that it was his employer who transferred him into the position in the first place. Sadly, Samir was fired by the company because he no longer had the appropriate employment visa. The sudden uptick in H-1B denials is causing real harm to real people. 

Call Our Los Angeles, CA H-1B Visa Lawyer Right Away

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, our California employment immigration attorneys have extensive experience representing H-1B visa applicants. To schedule a confidential discussion with an experienced lawyer, please contact us today. With a law office in Los Angeles, we serve clients throughout the region, including in Orange County, Ventura County, and San Bernardino County. Call (213) 262-2000