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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.


from https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Reports%20and%20Studies/Immigration




The content of this article is intended to provide a general

guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought

about your specific circumstances.

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