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A trio of articles on the increasing difficulties of employment-based immigration

Several articles in major media have documented the exponentially increasing difficulties of getting an employment-based immigration matter approved in the current climate.

These focus not only on USICS, which is really the main source of changes with increased scrutiny of wage levels for H-1Bs and core qualifications for various visa types, but also issues with consular processing the State Department consular posts abroad

The articles include the New York Times’ Without New Laws or Walls, Trump Presses the Brake on Legal Immigration, the San Francisco Chronicle’s More H-1B hopefuls denied under Trump, data show and Mother Jones’ Good Luck Recruiting Top Talent, America.

The New York Times article focuses on the Administration’s under-the-radar attempts to clamp down on even legal immigration without actual legislative or regulatory change, through executive orders and policy guidance at the agency level. It specifically addresses the 44% jump in Requests for Evidence (“RFEs”) from January through August 2017 vs. the same period of 2016 – something that, based on our experience, has jumped even more from early August to the present. Also mentioned is a roughly 10% drop in the overall approval rate -again, something that in our office’s experience has become even worse since early August.

The San Francisco Chronicle article, as the title suggests, focusses on the dramatically increasing difficulty with obtaining H-1B approvals in the current climate, discussing the increasing questioning of whether clearly professional occupations are in fact “Specialty Occupations” within the meaning of the H-1B requirements. The article notes that there were more than twice as many denials in November 2017 as in November 2016 (17.6% this November vs. 7.7%. in November 2016).

The times article focuses on the increasingly arbitrary decisions in H-1B cases, with some mention of L-1 and H-2B matters, as well as several items previously discussed in this blog: the delayed implementation and planned retraction of the Entrepreneur Parole rule, retraction of a rule providing deference to earlier USCIS approval decisions, and implementation of in-person interviews for all employment-based immigration matters. Increased scrutiny of permanent residents seeking to enter the military and a plan to retract the availability of employment authorization for some H-4 dependent spouses are mentioned as well.

The Mother Jones Article addresses issues not only with H-1Bs, L-1s and other employment-based visas but also, as with the New York times article, various new policies previously discussed in this blog: in-person interviews for employment-based green card cases, elimination of deference for previously-approved petitions, delay and stated intent to eliminate the Entrepreneur Parole Rule, and changes to the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual among them.