Not only has the Trump administration made significant efforts to reduce illegal immigration, but it has also created numerous obstacles in legal immigration matters.
When it comes to obtaining H-1B visas for high-skilled foreign workers, the U.S. government has now been denying more petitions than recent years. According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)—which runs the visa program—has increased the number of requests for evidence from H-1B visa applicants, resulting in more delays and denials.
In the final quarter of 2018, approximately 60 percent of employers who filed a petition on behalf of foreign workers—either prospective new hires or current employees—received requests for additional information, in comparison to around 46 percent of applicants who received similar demands the last quarter of 2017 and 28 percent the previous year. The approval rate dropped to 75 percent in the final quarter of last year, from 83 percent in 2018 and 92 percent in 2016.
When current USCIS director L. Francis Cissna took the position in October 2017, he promised to administer a stricter vetting process and several policies which look out for the best interests of the American employee. The agency now asks employers to prove if the sponsored job was considered a “specialty occupation” and if they had authentic relationships with the applicants.
IT services companies experienced the most rejections for new applications compared to past years. The trend is based on a combination of increased denials, slower immigration process, and changing market demands.
However, companies such as Google Inc., Facebook Inc., Apple Inc., Amazon.com Services, and Microsoft Corp. had an approval rating of 99 percent. The applications for H-1B visas largely come from 30 companies, mainly those from the tech and banking industry.
In the business world, U.S. companies are trying to gain a technological advantage over their domestic and international competitors by building digital platforms, which is why IT services are so crucial. Since the U.S. has a shortage of digital and IT skills, in order to create and maintaining these platforms, these companies rely on foreign workers—mainly from India—to succeed. However, the immigration crackdown by the current administration has affected these companies’ ability to develop digital platforms, which also has a negative impact on their competitiveness.