2017 was a challenging year for immigration petitioners and beneficiaries. The Trump administration took incremental steps to change the U.S.’s immigration policies. While nothing affecting the business community was as dramatic as the travel bans that provoked marches and rallies across the United States, the changes to employment based immigration have left employers and workers with greater uncertainty.
H-1B denials are up to 17.6% of all filed cases – more than twice the 7.7% rate last year – according to USCIS data provided to the San Francisco Chronicle. According to the most recent data, USCIS has issued Requests for Evidence on a staggering 37.9% of H-1B filings, also more than double the rate compared to 2016.
Such data quantifies the more difficult climate we now face. Indeed, we have spent considerable time covering the Administration’s more stringent approach to nonimmigrant visas this past year, including the Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, its temporary (but significantly long) suspension of H-1B premium processing, targeted RFEs aimed at entry-level positions, and the removal of deference on extension filings. Additionally, legislation targeting H-1B dependent employers has also garnered significant traction in Congress.
2018 will also present its challenges. With a vacuum created due to a lack of legislative reform, DHS has signaled that it will issue proposed rulemaking, likely to affect the definition of H-1B ‘specialty occupation,’ H-4 work authorization, STEM F-1 OPT, and (attempt to again) repeal the international entrepreneur rule. DHS will further overhaul the EB-5 program. President Trump frequently threatens to withdraw from NAFTA. News also broke this week that USCIS will attempt to restrict ways Congressional Offices may assist constituents, as well as implement additional forms and new certifications.
Notwithstanding these trying times, Green and Spiegel remains committed to our clients and partners to find creative solutions for their international workforces while ensuring compliance with existing laws. While many may be pessimistic regarding this moment in our immigration history, we pride ourselves on zealous advocacy for those we are honored to represent.
The next year will prove to be challenging. Contact us to be with you each step of the way.