A new analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) found that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is denying more petitions for foreign workers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. H-1B visa denials increased 41 percent from the 3rd to the 4th quarter of FY 2017, rising from a denial rate of 15.9 percent in the 3rd quarter to 22.4 percent in the 4th quarter. NFAP attributed this to changes USCIS implemented after President Trump signed his "Buy American, Hire American" executive order in April of last year.
The study found an even more significant increase in the number of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) during the same period. If an USCIS officer finds that a H-1B petitioner has not submitted all required evidence or determines that the evidence submitted does not meet the standard for approving the petition, the officer requests additional evidence. RFEs increased 300 percent between the third and fourth quarters of FY 2017. The data show that there were almost as many RFEs in the 4th quarter as in all three other quarters combined.
The report said, “The significant increase in denials and Requests for Evidence in the 4th quarter of 2017, which started July 1, 2017, came shortly after Donald Trump issued his restrictive “Buy American and Hire American” executive order on April 18, 2017. The data indicate the new administration needed time to get in place its new political appointees…who were not considered favorably inclined in the first place toward businesses or high-skilled foreign nationals.”
The president’s executive order was designed to “create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States, and to protect their economic interests by rigorously enforcing and administering our immigration laws.” The NFAP, which has long been an advocate for increasing foreign guest workers, developed the report to demonstrate how the Trump Administration is “limiting the admission of high-skilled foreign nationals.” But H-1B opponents see the report as a sign that USCIS is starting to combat fraud and abuse in the H-1B visa program.
Updated: Thu, Aug 9th 2018 @ 6:40pm EDT