Current adjudication standards pose new and continuing challenges to employers seeking to hire foreign national employees
Federal immigration data underscores the challenges employers are facing as a result of the current U.S. immigration process. For example: In fiscal year (FY) 2019, the request for evidence (RFE) rate for H-1B petitions increased to 40.2%, compared to 38% in FY 2018. Additionally, the approval rate of H-1B petitions with RFE was 65.4%. Compare this to five years ago, when the H-1B petition RFE rate was 22.3%, and 83.2% of H-1B petitions with an RFE were approved.
Employers are facing increased scrutiny from the government throughout the legal immigration process, and findings from Envoy Global’s 2020 Immigration Trends Report reflect this sentiment. Here’s a look at the challenges employers are facing and the changes they would like to see to the U.S. immigration system.
The Visa Application Process Becomes More Difficult
Under the current administration, 38% of employers said the visa application process has become more difficult, while only 16% said it has become less difficult.
The procedure for acquiring a visa for a foreign national employee involves a combination of internal, external and USCIS-related processes. In 2017, the Trump administration instituted the Buy American, Hire American executive order, and this has increased the scrutiny USCIS places on visa petitions and applications.
Employers specifically cite the added time it takes for the government to process cases. Over half (54%) of respondents said the increased time in case processing is challenging or significantly more challenging. Additional pain points that have become more challenging under the current administration include:
- Increased waiting times for green cards
- Individual cases are becoming more difficult
- Lack of predictability due to frequent changes in government policies
- Lack of visa availability
As the process remains difficult, more pain points arise for employers. In the 2020 report, 41% of employers said one of the biggest pain points surrounding the visa application process is the uncertainty of outcome. This is a slight increase from 39% in 2019.
Another pain point is the rise in application denials, with 38% of respondents citing it as the second-most pain point. Respondents also cited the lack of transparency (34%) and foreign national anxiety (30%) as additional pain points.
Employers Want Efficiency, Transparency and Visa Availability
Employers face increased scrutiny from the government, but they are receptive to one change USCIS implemented in 2019. Early last year, USCIS changed the order of the H-1B cap lottery by selecting the 20,000 master’s cap petitions first, then moving on to the regular cap. Employers believe that change had a positive impact on their companies, with 50% of respondents saying it had a significant or somewhat positive impact.
However, there are still a few areas employers would like to see changed to help mitigate the increased difficulty in the visa process.
Speed is the name of the game for employers, as 95% want USCIS to process cases quicker and 94% would like more expedited filing. Employers also value transparency, with 95% wanting improved insights into USCIS case processing and initiatives. Finally, employers want to see more options available for hiring foreign national employees (95%), including increasing the number of H-1B visas available annually (93%).
Discover more insights to help shape your immigration mobility program by downloading a personal copy of the 2020 Immigration Trends Report.
Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Sara Herbek, who is the Managing Partner at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (www.giafirm.com), Envoy’s affiliated law firm.
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.