H-1B and L-1 Approvals Continue to Decline

H-1B and L-1 Approvals Continue to Decline

 

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. Retrieved from https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Reports%20and%20Studies/Immigration%20Forms%20Data/Employment-based/I129_Quarterly_Request_for_Evidence_FY2015_FY2019_Q4.pdf?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTURCaE1UQmtNV001TjJFNSIsInQiOiJPazZjcW5WVFJRYlpcLzBqYXlBR3NmY3JpZjlqemFRQzh0WDRSc1I0TnFLeThjUHVFbDlROXhld2hoZk9GazRFUG55SEZ0RDl6TU1PXC9pTDdGZWRGYnFzeVpKbllDbzZWRGZWWXRjeWQ4QXFlck1meE5uNVwvXC9YUGJQTWdNSHFEOVUifQ%3D%3D.