Immigration news | USCIS now denies more petitions for L-1B visas than before

Based on the studies conducted by National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), denial rates for L-1B petitions have been dramatically increased in recent years.

In FY 2012 and 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) increased its already historically high rate of denials for L-1B petitions, a visa category used by employers to transfer highly skilled employees into America. USCIS actions directly affect the ability of employers to increase jobs, innovation and production inside the United States. While as recently as FY 2006 the denial rate for L-1B petitions was 6 percent, the denial rate for L-1B petitions rose to 34 percent in FY 2013, after rising to 30 percent in FY 2012 – a more than five-fold increase in the rate of denials despite no new regulation changing the adjudication standard. (The increase in denial rates, particularly of Indian nationals, started in FY 2008, as detailed in an earlier NFAP report.) Time- consuming Requests for Evidence (RFE) from adjudicators for L-1B petitions also continued at a high level – 46 percent in FY 2013. That means in 2013 about half of petitions to transfer in employees with specialized knowledge were either denied or delayed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services adjudicators. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released the 2012 and 2013 data in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

The continuing high rate of denials and Requests for Evidence for L-1B petitions has a negative impact on the ability of companies to make products and services in the United States and compete globally. “During the time covered by the newly released data, the law didn’t change, while the economy only became more global,” said Blake Chisam, former chief counsel of the House Ethics Committee and a partner at the Fragomen law firm. “Yet, somehow, the immigration agency managed both to change the rules and complicate the process, without, once again, giving the regulated community even an inkling of its expectations or the reasons for its behavior. The costs and consequences to global businesses of having to guess – and second guess – about how the agency will act with respect to the specialists who drive their businesses is staggering.”

Source: NFAP

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