The USCIS recently issued its annual statistics report,
confirming a continuing downward trend in approvals for both the
H-1B and L-1 categories. For the fifth consecutive year, the
approval rate for initial H-1B petitions across all industries have
declined, from 95.7% in 2015 to 84.8% in 2019; a decline of 11
percentage points. H-1B RFE issuances have also jumped up from a
low or 20.8% in 2016 to nearly double that (40.2%) in 2019.
Post-RFE approvals have rebounded slightly from their 2018 rate of
62.4% to 65.4% in 2019. Nevertheless, this is still far below their
rates for FY 2015 (82.2%) and FY 2016 (78.9%).
L-1 adjudication trends across all industries are in some cases
more dramatic. The approval rate for initial L-1 petitions dropped
from a five-year high of 85% in 2016 to 71.9% in 2019, a decline of
over 13 percentage points. RFE issuance rates increased from 32.1%
in 2016 to 54.3% in 2019. Rates in post-RFE L-1 approvals have
declined, but not as sharply as in the H-1B category. They declined
from 52.9% in 2018 to 50.8% in 2019.
While these figures comprise trends across all industry
sectors, certain industries, which have traditionally had higher
RFE and denials rates in the past, such as Indian IT companies, may
have a higher RFE and denial rate than what is reflected in the
recent USCIS published statistics. Nevertheless, the
aggregate statistics indicate that the downward trend of approval
rates that has followed in the wake of President Trump's
"Buy American, Hire American" executive order in April
2017 continues apace.
Source: USCIS. (2019). I-129 – Petition for
nonimmigrant worker individuals with extraordinary
ability or achievement (O) by fiscal year, month, and case
status: October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2019.
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