Many California residents may have noticed that the H-1B visa denial rate has increased in the last couple of years, even though laws have not changed and neither have any regulations been put forward by the United States Customs and Immigrations Services for comment. Denial rates have gone from six percent in FY 2015 to 32 percent in the first quarter of FY 2019.

While Congress has largely turned a blind eye to USCIS policies regarding denials, requests for evidence and application delays in the last few years, this is set to change as the House Judiciary Committee began questioning them earlier this month. One representative told relevant representatives that she was concerned about how processes have changed, explaining how delays in Optional Practical Training lasting five months or more mean that an internship has ended before approval comes through.

Others went on to point out that processing times surged by 91 percent from FY 2014 to FY 2018. USCIS’s own policies fueled the delays, as it now requires in person interviews for employment-based visas. It no longer deferred to prior decisions. USCIS stated that H-1B visa processing had been affected by a number of changes, a remarkable statement given USCIS has been denying that delays were caused by administrative policies.

Lawmakers are concerned that relevant administrations are not interested in attracting talented scientists or helping companies retain them. As a result, employment based visas are becoming harder to come by and keep. Those who have been asked to provide further evidence or who are facing delays in visa processing may want to consult an experienced attorney.