USCIS stats: H-1B, L requests for evidence remain high

22 Jul 19

UNITED STATES

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released new statistics last week on requests for evidence (RFEs) through the first three quarters of fiscal year 2019 (Oct. 2018 through June 2019) for H-1B, L and other categories.

Key points:

  • The rate of RFEs issued in H-1B cases in the third quarter of fiscal 2019 (April through June 2019) remained higher than the RFE rate in the same quarter the previous four years. In Q3 2019, 26.7% of H-1B cases were subject to an RFE, compared to 12.5% in Q3 2015 and 18% in Q3 of both 2016 and 2017.
  • So far in fiscal 2019, the RFE rate in H-1B cases is also higher than any of the previous four years. Nearly two in five H-1B petitions (39.6%) during the current fiscal year have been subject to an RFE.
  • Approvals in 2019 have also dropped compared to previous years. The approval rate for H-1B petitions declined to 83.9% (from 93% and higher in 2015 and 2016), while the approval rate for H-1B cases with RFEs fell to 62.7% (from more than 78% in 2015 and 83% in 2016).
  • In the L category, RFEs also continue to climb. So far in fiscal 2019, more than half of L cases (53.7%) have been subject to an RFE, compared to only about one in three petitions in 2015 and 2016.
  • L approvals have also fallen, from a high of 85% in 2016 to 72% thus far in 2019.
Fiscal Year H-1B Approvals H-1Bs Completed with RFEs H-1Bs Approved with RFEs
2015 95.7 % 22.3 % 83.2 %
2016 93.9 % 20.8 % 78.9 %
2017 92.6 % 21.4 % 73.6 %
2018 84.5 % 38 % 62.4 %
2019 (Q1-Q3) 83.9 % 39.6 % 62.7 %

 

Fiscal Year L-1A, L-1B Approvals Ls Completed with RFEs Ls Approved with RFEs
2015 83.7 % 34.3 % 53.5 %
2016 85 % 32.1 % 55.6 %
2017 80.8 % 36.2 % 49.4 %
2018 77.8 % 45.6 % 52.9 %
2019 (Q1-Q3) 72 % 53.7 % 50.7 %

BAL Analysis: The most recent statistics confirm that USCIS continues to issue requests for evidence in H-1B and L cases at a rate higher than the previous four years. The spike in RFEs coincides with President Trump’s 2017 Buy American and Hire American executive order directing federal agencies to tighten visa eligibility. Employers should expect this trend to continue into the current H-1B cap season.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@balglobal.com.