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NFAP Study Finds a Major Spike in USCIS Denials of L-1 and H-1B Cases
A newly released report from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) found that data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reveals that the immigration agency has dramatically increased denials of L-1 and H-1B petitions over the past four years despite no change in the law or relevant regulations in the same time period.
After analyzing newly released USCIS data, the NFAP report found:
- Denial rates for L-1B petitions filed with USCIS, which are used to transfer employees with "specialized knowledge" into the United States, rose from 7 percent in FY 2007 to 22 percent in FY 2008, despite no change in the law or relevant regulation. The denial rates stayed high for L-1B petitions at 26 percent in FY 2009, 22 percent in FY 2010 and 27 percent in FY 2011.1 In addition, 63 percent of L-1B petitions in FY 2011 were at least temporarily denied or delayed due to a Request for Evidence.
- Denial rates for H-1B petitions increased from 11 percent in FY 2007 to 29 percent in FY 2009, and remained higher than in the past for H-1Bs at 21 percent in FY 2010 and 17 percent in FY 2011.
- Denial rates for L-1A petitions increased from 8 percent in FY 2007 to 14 percent in FY 2011. L-1A visas are used to transfer executives and managers into the United States.
- The Request for Evidence rate for L-1B petitions (to transfer employees with specialized knowledge) rose from 17 percent in FY 2007 to 49 percent in FY 2008. It then soared to an astonishing level of 63 percent in FY 2011.
- The Request for Evidence rate for L-1A petitions (to transfer managers and executives) increased from 4 percent in FY 2004, to 24 percent in FY 2007, up to 51 percent in FY 2011.
- For H-1B petitions, the Request for Evidence rate rose from 4 percent in FY 2004, to 18 percent by FY 2007, to a high of 35 percent in FY 2009. In FY 2011, the rate for H-1Bs was 26 percent.
Another finding in the NFAP report is that much of the increase in denials involves Indian-born professionals and researchers. Curiously, country-specific data on new (initial) L-1B petitions indicates that USCIS is more likely to deny a petition from an Indian-born professional than nationals of other countries. The denial rate for Indian-born applicants for new L-1B petitions rose from 2.8 percent in Fiscal Year 2008 to 22.5 percent in FY 2009. NFAP noted that USCIS had denied more new L-1B petitions for Indians in FY 2009 (1,640) than in the previous 9 fiscal years combined (1,341 denials between FY 2000 and FY 2008). By comparison, the denial rate for new L-1B petitions for Canadians rose from just 2.0 percent in FY 2008 to only 2.9 percent in FY 2009.
The full NFAP Policy Brief on high denial rates for L-1 and H-1B petitions at USCIS is available on the NFAP website.