Increased Restrictions for H-1B Visas

The H-1B visa is granted to foreign-born individuals working in certain professions and meet specific academic and/or employment criteria. This temporary work visa offers the opportunity to live and work in the United States for up to three years with the possibility for renewal. Yet, with guidelines for H-1B approvals becoming more stringent, companies who employ these workers may find it more challenging to access international talent and fill these positions. Not only have approval rates for the H-1B visa dropped considerably over the past five years, new restrictions will require employers to work harder to prove H1 candidates are an asset to our workforce.

Significant Drop in H-1B Approvals

To put restrictions on H-1B visas into perspective, consider the increase in rejection rates over the past decade. At its lowest, application denials were at five percent for fiscal 2012. In fiscal 2019, the denial rate was 24 percent; nearly one in every four temporary work visas for initial employment was rejected. For continuing employment, denial rates went from six percent in 2009 to 12 percent this fiscal year. There are several reasons why it is more difficult to have an H-1B visa approved:

  • A United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) effort to end the H-4 EAD program, which gives H-1B visa holders’ spouses the ability to work in this country
  • The addition of a registration fee for H-1B applications
  • Greater scrutiny about the work applicants are hired for
  • An increased preference for candidates with advanced degrees
  • Short-validity periods giving holders less time to work in this country

Legal Pushback Against Temporary Work Visa Restrictions

In response to recent H-1B hurdles, several outsourcing and consulting firms have filed more than 100 lawsuits collectively against the federal government. Some allege the USCIS is being overly restrictive in requesting additional evidence for more applications. Others have problems with the USCIS approving visas for too short of a time instead of the suggested three-year period.

Support for Increased H-1B Restrictions

Support for reducing the number of H-1B visa approvals is also strong, and some say the government is not doing enough to make this option less appealing or accessible. Last year, the advocacy group, Save Jobs USA, sued the Department of Homeland Security for taking too long to withdraw visas for H-1B spouses, which can be a valuable incentive for international workers to seek employment in the United States. In response to complaints about the increased restrictions, a USCIS spokesperson said the goal was to protect U.S. workers, cut down on frivolous petitions, strengthen the transparency of employment-based visa programs, and improve the integrity of the immigration process.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Represent Clients with Temporary Work Visas

Foreign-born specialists are finding the opportunity to work in the United States increasingly more elusive due to more stringent regulations on the H-1B visa. If you have questions about how this may impact you as an employer, spouse, or family member of an H-1B candidate, contact a Philadelphia immigration lawyer at Surin & Griffin, P.C. today. Call us at 215-925-4435 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide.