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Increased denial rates for H-1B visas under Trump’s administration

After the U.S. announced the review of the citizenship of the various people living in the nation in November 2018, many tech workers became worried. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (‘the USCIS’) has declined to facilitate the renewal of many H-1B visas. Lack of authentication of the visa means that for the next one hundred and eighty days, many families risk being termed as illegal immigrants with a possibility of being forced to leave the country.

The notice is a severe blow to many tech workers that have completed their studies in the U.S. and started working through the H-1B program. Usually they landed jobs with IT outsourcing firms as quality assurance analysts, or software engineers. H-1B visas that are usually set aside for specialty professions.

Although many families have lived in the US for a long time and many of their achievements have not changed including skills, educational background, among others, techies see a denied renewal of H-1B visas more and more, with the excuse that their professions are no longer considered a specialty. We have seen a hardened stance since the start of Trump’s administration, when it also became harder for tech companies to hire H-1B workers due to President Trump’s “America First” agenda.

Many H-1B’s visas rejected

The new policies that have been implemented by Trump’s administration have worked against the expectations of many U.S. tech workers. Many of them have had their visas rejected. The H-1B program had facilitated various foreigners to be employed by US companies to work temporarily. The process is carried out primarily to jobs that require specialized theoretical and practical applications.

The positions are usually reserved for people with at least a bachelor’s degree in their area of specialty. They may also be considered when they have equivalent training in specific fields. Employers who are not able to find Americans with such qualifications are allowed to outsource foreign-based employees. The government reserves around 65,000 of such visas and 20,000 of them are reserved for individuals who get a master’s degree or higher while in the US. The US has a higher demand for tech skills.

H-1B rejections more than doubled

As a result, H-1B visas are very competitive and in high demand. There were approximately 419,000 petitions that were filed for continuing and new permits in 2018. Based on the research carried out, the rate of decline for registration in both classes has skyrocketed intensely.

The National Foundation for American Policy conducted an analysis and determined that there was an increase in the rate of decline of registering specialty professions to extend their visas in the country from 4 percent in 2016 to around 12% in 2018. This rate of decline went higher to 18 percent in the first quarter of 2019.

For the new employment, the USCIS has turned down more than double on the number of petitions that have been brought forward. The organization declined 10 percent in 2016 and 2018; it dropped to 24 percent. The decline rate was 32 percent in the first quarter of 2019. The denial rates have been increasing despite the decreasing applications during President Trump’s administration.

Expert Stuart Anderson wondered how such vast rates of decline would be taking place albeit the lack of legal or legislation to inform the agencies on declining the applications. Stuart was a former staffer on the Senate Immigration Committee. He is the current Executive Director of the National Foundation for American Policy.

Buy American, Hire American

Trump administration has just decided to execute the changes through the use of executive powers. In his campaigns, Trump had promised to overhaul the H-1B visa program that attracted more foreign workers with less pay at the expense of the local workers. The President assented to an executive under the banner “Buy American, Hire American” within the first few months in office. The measure was meant to prioritize visas for the most skilled and highest paid workers.

As a result of the President ‘s executive order, the USCIS sought to review the third party outsourcing firms to reassess if certain types of educational experiences and jobs were really a specialty or not. The agency also had, in 2017, demanded that the officers involved in the evaluation processes not to comply with the previous decisions that were used to assess the conditions of extending someone’s visa. The dynamics ultimately reversed the policies that existed in the earlier administrations.

Tech companies hire less foreign specialists

The decline of applications has been on the increase as a result of these changes, especially for top H-1B employers. The changes have also affected giant employers such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, among others. They have also affected the renowned outsourcing firms such as cognizant and Infosys.

The execution of the present changes does not mean that the existing regulations and order were in any way flawed. Lawmakers and companies have been fighting for various amendments in the immigration system even before Trump took over power. The large outsourcing firms such as Infosys and Tata Consultants dominated the draw who much determined the people to get visas or not.

They consequently had many applications with the USCIS. They had a great share of the approvals. The employers were paying fewer wages than expected for the same level of work. Some companies such as Disney were forced to lay-off American workers and trained the foreign ones. This kind of social crisis has been one of the motivating factors to have the policies on immigration changed.

Less H-1B

The contention of some firms receiving significant shares in the approvals of H-1B has declined and shifted into new concerns. For example, in 2018, Amazon was considered as having received the most significant consents for new visas. Its denial rates were also meagre. In the first quarter of 2019, however, the denial rates rose to at least 50 percent. To Trump’s administration, this signifies a great success. The argument is that more people who have degrees in American society can get awarded the H-1B visas instead.

USCIS has made various reforms that aim to assist the President in achieving his legacy on the “Buy American and Hiring American” executive order. According to them, this tends to protect American workers. The efficiency and integrity of the immigration processes, increase in the confidence of eligibility are some of the benefits of the new policies. Additionally, the new measures are aimed at minimizing some of the unwarranted petitions.

Any petitioner, and not the government, should be able to demonstrate his or her eligibility to get the immigration benefits that are legally provided.

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