The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) marks a fiscal year starting on October 1st and ending on September 30th each year. As we draw a close on FY 2019, ending this month, we eagerly anticipate to see how many new foreign skilled workers are going to be able to join work starting October 1, 2019 and how many are held back or delayed with a Request for Evidence (RFE).
USCIS recently released an updated statistical database that points at the exponential rise in RFEs issued over the past four years. The disparity between the 48% RFEs issued in FY 2019 compared to the 22.3% RFEs issued back in FY 2015 is stark. This has not only caused severe business delays, financial hurdles to both company and the individual foreign worker but also affected the economic state in the entire technology sector of US. The updated new data provides transparency into USCIS and underscores their scrutiny of all employment-based visas. What stands out is that the L1 category of employment visas have seen lesser RFEs and denials compare to H-1B visas.
What Does USCIS’ New RFE Data Tell Us? And How to Address the Issues
- RFEs Continue
The recent trend of issuing of RFEs continues to rise and foreign workers won’t see any respite in the near future. This is a clear indication that USCIS will continue to use a fine-toothed comb to inspect each and every element of employment-based petitions.
How to address RFE – Employers should ensure they provide detailed descriptions of the positions they are seeking to fill and include qualifications of the employee to ascertain eligibility.
Here are other ways to successfully respond to a RFE
- Approvals Decline
A good reference point within the data is to how many employment visas were approved. Employers can analysis this information to see what to fix and where to fix it. Data shows that the approval numbers have steadily declined too. For FY 2015, the approval percentage was 95.7% while it is at 79.4% in FY 2019.
How to address a H1B Denial – Of the 201,011 H1B petitions received this cap lottery season, only 85,000 gets selected. To ensure you are one of the ones selected, your employer now gets to pre-register for $10 with USCIS before being included in the lottery. This should include justifications for specialty occupation, educational background as well the time distribution for the job at hand. Alternately, explore other options to stay in the US if not selected in the FY 2020 visa lottery
To see how many H1B petitions were denied the first three quarters of 2019, check out the numbers here
- Decline in Approvals Even After RFE Response
Another significant data was the approval rating after a H1B petition received and responded to an RFE. In FY 2015, the approval percentage of petitions with an RFE was 83.2% whereas it was 60.5% in FY 2019, a sharp drop.
How can you address a denial after RFE? Your immigration lawyer can appeal the denial under certain circumstances. However, in order to avoid a denial in the first place, you can respond to the specific RFE issue with effective evidentiary documents.