There was also a rise in the number of requests for additional evidence to substantiate applications for this category of visa, which is used to bring in about 85,000 people a year to work in the country. Many of them are Indians who work in the technology industry.
In the first quarter of FY2017, the rejection rate was 19.8% for H-1B visa applications and this was 17.3%, 15.9% and 22.4% in the next three quarters. As far as requests for evidence went, they stood at 17.3% in the first quarter, and were 13.5%, 22.5% in the next two quarters before rising sharply to 68.9% in the final quarter.
For Indians, the request for evidence rate went from 18.2% in the first quarter to 13.8%, then 24.2% and finally 72.4% in the final quarter, while the rejection rate fell from 18.3% to 16.6% (second and third quarters) before rising to 23.6% in the last quarter.
The NFAP pointed out that the rise of both denials and requests for evidence came shortly after President Donald Trump issued his “Buy American and Hire American” executive order on 18 April 2017.
"The data indicate the new administration needed time to get in place its new political appointees — considered by observers to be a who’s who of opponents of all forms of immigration — and to exert their will on USCIS career adjudicators, who were not considered favourably inclined in the first place toward businesses or high-skilled foreign nationals," the NFAP said.
“Even though approximately 80% of the full-time graduate students in key technical fields at US universities are international students it’s clear the current administration would prefer these individuals not be allowed to work in the US,” said Anderson.
“It’s fair to say there isn’t a high-tech company in America that thinks that makes sense.”
Chart: courtesy NFAP