Record high H-1B denials could cause hole in workplace

Over 20% of H-1B Visas Denied in 2019

In the fiscal year (FY) 2019, 116,031 new or initial H-1B petitions were submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Of those petitions, 27,707 were denied – meaning just under one-quarter of all H-1B applications were denied in 2019. 

When compared to levels in 2015, the rates of denials have risen exponentially.

Comparing 2019 H-1B Denial Rates to 2015

Fiscal year 2015 is often used for comparison because it is one of the lowest denial rates in the past five years, and marks the last year before President Trump was sworn into office.

In FY 2015, the denial rate was only 6% in the first quarter. By comparison, the denial rate in the first quarter of FY 2019 was 32%. According to some experts, these numbers make it “clear to attorneys [that] USCIS has acted without proper legal authority in restricting H-1B visas.”

Part of the change is attributed to President Trump’s 2017 executive order, which has been dubbed the “Buy American and Hire American” order. The executive order encouraged and required agencies to look for ways to create higher wages, employment rates, and economic growth within the United States, without looking to other countries to employ workers or create products. In FY 2017, the denial rates rose from 10% to 13%, and in FY 2018, they increased again to 24%.

For example, U.S. immigration practitioners have seen H-1B petitions that would have normally been approved in past years are now denied under USCIS’ current practice of using narrower interpretations of what constitutes a “specialty occupation.”

The Impact of High Denial Rates

With denial rates at record high levels, various industries, including technology sectors, have felt a serious impact on their employment and operations. In India, for example, the four largest software service exporters have seen roughly half of all of their work visas denied in the past year. These companies, including Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, HCL Technologies, and Wipro will have to look elsewhere for avenues to secure visas for their workers.

Traditionally, Indian nationals made up for roughly 70 percent of all H-1B visas issued. Additionally, Indian nationals also account for almost 93 percent of all Employment Authorization Documents issued to H-4 visas, as spouses of H-1B beneficiaries. It is unclear whether those numbers have changed since their last reported date in 2017, but they could very well be significantly altered in the near future.

The National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) noted: “If the goal of the Trump administration is to make it much more difficult for well-educated foreign nationals to work in America in technical fields, then USCIS is accomplishing that goal.” 

However, the impact of this new policy could create serious holes in the American workforce. NFAP stated: “Whether the actions of USCIS are serving the best interests of the United States is a question that will remain open for debate.”

Get Help From an H-1B Visa Lawyer

Because of increased scrutiny, it is even more important that employers follow the application process very closely. David Hirson & Partners, LLP, can help with that process, increasing your company’s chance of getting an H-1B petition approved. 

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an appointment to discuss your options. 

Tel: +1-949-383-5358                Web: www.Hirson.com               Email: info@hirson.com

This blog post is general information and is not legal advice.

David Hirson & Partners, LLP – Providing U.S. Immigration Education Around the World

Istanbul, Turkey & Tel Aviv, Israel

David Hirson & Partners, LLP (DHP) and Visa Franchise co-hosted two immigration seminars in Istanbul, Turkey and Tel Aviv, Israel this month. Attendees were able to learn and ask questions about U.S. immigration options including, E-2 visa, EB-1C visa, and L-1 visa options. Attorney David Hirson, Managing Partner at DHP, provided key insights into how individuals and families from Israel and Turkey could successfully immigrate to the U.S.

Attorney David Hirson addressing an audience in Istanbul, Turkey (January 2020)

Of particular interest to attendees at both events was information on combining U.S. immigration plans with business opportunities, specifically franchise business opportunities in the U.S.

Attorney David Hirson presenting in Tel Aviv, Israel on converting an L-1A visa to an EB-1C visa (January 2020)

Audience in Tel Aviv, Israel learning about combining U.S. franchise business opportunities to U.S. immigration plans (January 2020)

For more information about how you and your family can combine your U.S. immigration dreams with owning and operating a franchise business of your choice, contact the experienced immigration attorneys at David Hirson & Partners, LLP today.

Tel: +1-949-383-5358                            Web: www.Hirson.com                                          Email: info@hirson.com

February 2020 Visa Bulletin Released

The U.S. Department of State has just released the February 2020 visa bulletin, and there have been a few updates to note since last month’s bulletin:

Family-Based Table A: Final Action Dates for Family-Sponsored Cases

Family-
Sponsored 
All Chargeability 
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-mainland 
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES 
F1 22AUG13 22AUG13 22AUG13 22AUG97 01APR09
F2A C C C C C
F2B 22AUG14 22AUG14 22AUG14 15SEP98 01MAY09
F3 22NOV07 22NOV07 22NOV07 22MAR96 01MAY99
F4 01JUL06 01JUL06 22NOV04 15JAN98 01JUL99

Most of the categories moved forward a few weeks to a month, with a noticeable expectation of F4 which retrogressed about a half-year for China and all other categories. F2A remains current.

Family-Based Table B: Priority Dates for Family-Sponsored Cases

Family-
Sponsored 
All Chargeability 
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland 
born
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES 
F1 22MAR14 22MAR14 22MAR14 15NOV99 01OCT09
F2A 01DEC19 01DEC19 01DEC19 01DEC19 01DEC19
F2B 22APR15 22APR15 22APR15 15MAY99 01NOV09
F3 22JUL08 22JUL08 22JUL08 15JUL00 01NOV99
F4 22JUL07 22JUL07 22JUL05 01JAN99 01JAN00

We see only modest gains of about a week for Table B filings.

Employment-Based Table A: Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Cases

Employment-
based
All Chargeability 
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland
born
EL SALVADOR
GUATEMALA
HONDURAS
INDIA MEXICO PHILIPPINES VIETNAM
1st 01DEC18 22MAY17 01DEC18 01JAN 15 01DEC 18 01DEC18 01DEC 18
2nd C 15JUL15 C 19MAY09 C C C
3rd C 01JAN16 C 08JAN 09 C 01JUN18 C
Other Workers C 01MAY08 C 08JAN 09 C 01JUN18 C
4th C C 01JUL16 C 01SEP17 C C
Certain Religious Workers C C 01JUL16 C 01SEP17 C C
5th Non-Regional Center
(C5 and T5)
C 01DEC14 C 01SEP 18 C C 15DEC 16
5th Regional Center
(I5 and R5)
C 01DEC14 C 01SEP 18 C C 15DEC 16

China and India did not move for EB-1, but most other countries moved about 2 months. EB-3 for China moved 1 month and EB-5 for China moved about a week. India jumped from May 2018 to September 2018. Visas are also unlocked for EB-5 for RC visas.

Employment-Based Table B: Priority Dates for Employment-Based Visas

Employment-
based
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed
CHINA-
mainland 
born
EL SALVADOR
GUATEMALA
HONDURAS
INDIA MEXICO  PHILIPPINES 
1st C 01OCT17 C 15MAR17 C C
2nd C 01AUG16 C 01JUL09  C C
3rd 01JAN19 01MAR17 01JAN19 01FEB10 01JAN19 01JAN19
Other Workers 01JAN19 01AUG08 01JAN19 01FEB10 01JAN19 01JAN19
4th C C 15AUG16 C C C
Certain Religious Workers C C 15AUG16 C C C
5th Non-Regional Center
(C5 and T5)
C 15MAY15 C C C C
5th Regional Center
(I5 and R5)
C 15MAY15 C C C C

There has been no change for this month’s Employment-Based Table B. We still do not know whether or not this Table B can continue to be used for Employment-Based visa applications yet.

US Bans Iranian Nationals E-1 and E-2 Visas

USCIS Ends E-1 and E-2 Visas for Iranians

The U.S. offers E visas (E-1 or E-2 visas) to qualifying individuals from countries that have treaties of commerce and navigation with the United States. Many countries maintain such treaties with the U.S. for many years. An E visa typically allows individuals from treaty countries to travel to the U.S. for investment and international trade purposes.

Occasionally, there are instances when the decision is made to end a treaty of commerce and navigation. This is what happened on October 3, 2018, when the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights between the U.S. and Iran was terminated. Since there are no other qualifying treaties between the U.S. and Iran, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is now in the process of ending all E visa operations for individuals applying from Iran.

All Iranians currently in the U.S. on E visas are allowed to remain in the U.S. until their current E visa expires or they obtain another visa that allows them to stay in the U.S.

All Iranians who currently have a pending E visa extension or a pending change of status to an E-1 or E-2 visa will receive a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) that explains their current E visa immigration issue. Any currently pending E visa application filed after October 3, 2018 will be denied.

Given the current climate between the U.S. and Iran, it is necessary and wise for individuals and families to seek immigration assistance from qualified and experienced immigration attorneys. If you are looking for a way to lawfully stay in or immigrate to the U.S., contact the experienced immigration attorneys at David Hirson & Partners, LLP today. Our team of licensed immigration attorneys will help you create a plan to reach your immigration goals.

Tel: +1-949-383-5358 Web: www.Hirson.com Email:info@hirson.com

Recent policy update from USCIS in January 2020

USCIS Updates and News – January 16, 2020

USCIS Policy Manual Update

USCIS has recently issued new policy guidance regarding eligibility requirements, filing, and adjudication of requests to replace Permanent Resident Cards (PRC) using Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.

Highlights of this new policy include:

  • Eligibility requirements for replacing a PRC are reaffirmed in this new policy guidance.
  • Clarifies that I-551 stamps issued for temporary proof of lawful permanent resident (LPR) status may only be placed on an Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94) (with photo) or in a valid/unexpired passport.
  • Provides guidance for LPRs seeking commuter status and for those in commuter status seeking to take up residence in the United States.

The public has until January 30, 2020 to provide comments through the standard comment process.

USCIS Final Fiscal Year 2019 Statistics Available

USCIS has released its various fiscal year (FY) 2019 statistics online. These statistics provide data regarding USCIS’ operations during the last fiscal year, including data on naturalizations, green cards, employment authorizations, protected populations, and many more.

Highlights from USCIS’ FY 2019 data include:

  • 834,000 new citizens were naturalized during FY 2019, representing the largest number of naturalizations over the past 11 years.
  • 577,000 individuals were granted lawful permanent residence in the U.S. in FY 2019.
  • The number of pending green card applications were reduced by 14% and naturalization applications were reduced by 12%.
  • 2,200,000 employment authorization applications were reviewed.
  • More than 500,000 non-immigrant worker petitions were approved.
  • 40,000,000 cases were processed through E-Verify.
  • 25,000 individuals were granted immigration relief. This included individuals who are victims of trafficking, crime, and Violence Against Women Act recipients.
Preparing for the upcoming FY2021 H-1B Cap Season

Preparing for the Upcoming FY2021 H-1B Cap Season

As of April 1, 2020, the yearly slots available for the H-1B employment visa for specialty occupations will become available. These visas are exclusively for “specialty occupations,” and the available allotment is expected to be much lower than demand, as has been the trend for many years.

Because of the high demand for H-1B visas, employers are encouraged to identify employees or prospective employees who may need an H-1B visa now, to get started on the application process. 

Having everything ready will help get your application submitted as soon as an H-1B applicant is selected from this year’s new H-1B registration-lottery system and the application submission window opens to submit required paperwork.

Who Qualifies for an H-1B Visa?

When assessing company needs, employers may consider the following types of employees as good candidates for H-1B visas as long as the potential new employee is qualified to work in a specialty occupation:

1. F-1 visa students with degrees that are required to work in a specialty occupation

2. L-1 employees experiencing long green card delays

3. Former J-1 trainees who you would like to retain on a more permanent basis

Keep in mind that H-1B visas are specifically for “graduate-level” workers (meaning a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher or the foreign equivalent) in specialty occupations. These occupations require expertise that is not necessary for other types of jobs. 

(Note: Certain foreign workers who are working with the U.S. Department of Defense may qualify to apply for H-1B2 visas while individuals who are international fashion models of prominence may apply for H-1B3 visas.)

Typical H-1B fields include:

  • Technology
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Science 
  • Medicine
  • Engineering 
  • Architecture

Starting the process now will put you in a good position to apply when the flood gates open at the end of March.  

H-1B Caps in FY2021: What to Expect

Keep in mind that anyone who does not get a slot in the current lottery will have to wait to apply for available spaces next year. 

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented its new registration system this year, which will affect H-1B visas obtained in FY2021. 

Under this new system, there is no need to submit a full application before the lottery. Instead, employers will only need to submit a simple online registration for each employee.

This year’s initial registration period will be from March 1 through March 20, 2020.

Once the submissions reach 85,000, the USCIS will conduct a computer-generated lottery to select registrants. If an employee is selected, the employer must submit a complete H-1B application within the next 90 days.

Preparing for FY2021 H-1B Registration

The new H-1B registration system requires employers to electronically register in order to be able to submit a registration for the H-1B visa in FY2021. 

The employer must also pay the new $10 registration fee for each H-1B beneficiary employee that is registered. The registration period is set to open March 1, and employers should create a game plan with a licensed immigration attorney so that everything will be ready at the appropriate time.

Get Help with an H-1B Visa Application

To learn more about what you should do to get electronically registered and prepare for H-1B registration this March, give our team a call now to schedule a consultation. 

David Hirson & Partners, LLP, can walk you through all of the steps you need to get ready for submitting your H1-B registration today. 

Tel: +1-949-383-5358                Web: www.Hirson.com               Email: info@hirson.com

This blog post is general information and is not legal advice.

TEA Designation changes for EB-5 program

New Rules for Targeted Employment Area (TEA) Designations in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

Targeted Employment Area (TEA) Designations for EB-5 Projects [infographic]

On July 24, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security published the final rule for The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization. The final rule for The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization went into effect on November 21, 2019.

However, this new rule still leaves some uncertainty and risks, particularly with Targeted Employment Area (TEA) designations. TEA designations are important because a project that is designated as being in a TEA can accept EB-5 investors at the lower investment amount of $900,000.

 

Changes to TEA Designations EB-5 Program

USCIS changing immigration application fees

USCIS Changing Immigration Application Fees