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Legal Immigration Increasingly Difficult: H-1B and L-1 Petition Denials on the Rise

The American Immigration Council (AIC) reports that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Denials at increased rates for H-1B and L-1 petitions.

The RFE rate for H-1B petitions has increased to almost 40% in the first three quarters of FY 2019 compared to 22 and 21% in FYs 2015 and 2016.  The RFE rate for L-1 petitions is even higher, nearing 54% in the first three quarters of FY 2019. By comparison, the L-1 RFE rate was just 34% in FY 2015.

USCIS uses RFEs to request for additional documents to confirm the validity of petitions. RFEs often add months to the H-1B and L-1 process and even when petitioners respond with additional information, increasingly USCIS issues denials. In FY 2019 (as of June), only 63% of H-1B petitions were approved after an RFE was issued, compared to 83% in FY 2015.  Only about 50% of L-1 petitions were approved after an RFE was issued since FY 2017.

USCIS has also been increasingly issuing denials for H-1B and L-1A petitions without first issuing RFEs. In the first three quarters of FY 2019, USCIS denied 16.1% of initial H-1B petitions. That denial rate is nearly four times higher than it was in FY 2015. USCIS denied 28% of initial L-1 petitions in the first three quarters of FY 2019. That denial rate is significantly higher than what it was in the past four fiscal years.


The AIC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses litigation, research, legislative and administrative advocacy, and communications to work towards a more fair and just immigration system

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