USCIS data: RFEs for H-1B, L-1 petitions remain high

11 May 20

UNITED STATES

Requests for Evidence (RFEs) for H-1B and L-1 petitions remained high while approval rates improved slightly in the most recent quarter, according to new statistics released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the second quarter of fiscal year 2020 (January – March 2020).

Key points:

  • H-1B approvals. The H-1B approval rate was 87.1% in the second quarter of fiscal year 2020, up from 83.7% in the same quarter last year.
  • H-1B RFEs. 35.8% of H-1B petitions were subject to RFEs, slightly higher than 35.3% in the same period last year. The approval rate on H-1B petitions after RFE was 68.2%, moderately higher than 58.8% in the same quarter last year.
  • L-1 approvals. The approval rate for L-1 petitions filed with USCIS was 74.3%, up from 71.8% the same quarter last year.
  • L-1 RFEs. 53.6% of L-1 petitions received RFEs, slightly higher than 53% in the same quarter last year. The approval rate after RFE remains low at 55.3%, but higher than the rate (51.1%) in the same quarter last year.
Fiscal Year H-1B approval rate H-1B RFE rate H-1B approvals with RFEs
Q2 2020 87.1% 35.8% 68.2%
Q2 2019 83.7% 35.3% 58.8%
2019 84.8% 40.2% 65.4%
2018 84.5% 38.0% 62.4%
2017 92.6% 21.4% 73.6%
2016 93.9% 20.8% 78.9%
2015 95.7% 22.3% 83.2%

 

Fiscal Year L-1 approval rate L-1 RFE rate L-1 approvals with RFEs
Q2 2020 74.3% 53.6% 55.3%
Q2 2019 71.8% 53.2% 51.1%
2019 71.9% 54.3% 50.8%
2018 77.8% 45.6% 52.9%
2017 80.8% 36.2% 49.5%
2016 85.0% 32.1% 55.6%
2015 83.7% 34.3% 53.5%

BAL Analysis: The statistics are consistent with the Trump administration’s policies and directives to tighten visa eligibility following the Buy American and Hire American (BAHA) executive order in 2017. Though approval rates are ticking upward, they remain well below pre-BAHA approval rates as the agency continues to issue a high number of RFEs and interpret adjudication criteria narrowly.

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

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