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More H-1B visa applications rejected under Trump

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President Donald Trump’s administration has ramped up scrutiny of visas for foreign skilled workers, rejecting more H-1B requests and requiring extra evidence to process thousands of applications, according to government data released Friday.

In the fourth-quarter of 2018, US Citizenship and Immigration Services issued requests for evidence in 60% of H-1B applications submitted by companies on behalf of their employees, up from 46% in 2017 and 28% in 2016, according to a report from the agency.

The agency has more than doubled the instances in which it asks for additional supporting information over the last two years – it made 26,799 such requests in the last quarter of 2016, compared with more than 60,000 in last quarter of 2018.

The application-approval rate for H-1B visas has also plummeted, declining to 76% in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared with 83% in 2017 and 92% in 2016.

The H-1B program, which allots temporary visas to foreign workers with specialized skills, has frequently come under fire from the Trump administration, which has criticized companies of abusing it to hire cheap, foreign workers at the expense of Americans.

The agency hasn’t hidden its intentions of overhauling the program and applying more thorough scrutiny in an effort to ensure US workers aren’t getting short-shrift from employers.

“As part of our efforts to fulfill President Trump’s ‘Buy American and Hire American’ executive order, USCIS has made a series of reforms designed to protect U.S. workers, increase our confidence in the eligibility of those who receive benefits, cut down on frivolous petitions and improve the integrity and efficiency of the immigration-petition process,” USCIS spokeswoman Jessica Collins told The Wall Street Journal.

The agency says the top reasons it requests additional evidence for applications are:

  • The application didn’t establish the job qualifies as a “specialty occupation.”
  • The employer didn’t establish a valid relationship with the employee they’d applied on behalf of.
  • The application failed to show the employer had specific assignments for the specialty role for the employee that would last the duration of their tenure.

Tech companies tend to be the most voracious consumers of H-1B visas, and that trend hasn’t changed, according to USCIS data.

But some companies are having more success navigating the administration’s reforms and enhanced vetting than others.

IT-services companies Capgemini, Cognizant Technologies, and Infosys – three of the five most-active applicants – saw the lowest success rates, earning approvals on 60%, 68%, and 74% of their petitions during USCIS’ 2018 fiscal year.

Some companies had near-perfect approval rates: Microsoft, Apple, Google, Intel, and Facebook each scored 99% success rates.

Michelle Mark contributed to this report.

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