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H1-B applications up, approval rates down

It's getting harder for people from other nations to secure employment in California and the rest of the country due to factors like an improving economy and Presidential executive orders. More than 200,000 individuals applied for H1-B skilled worker visas in 2019; only 85,000 such visas will be issued. The H1-B lottery was used to select 42% of applicants, but those applicants have more to do before their visas are approved.

After its selection in the lottery, an H1-B application is placed for formal review by U.S. Customs and Immigration Services. USCIS has the power to approve or deny an application, or it can ask for further materials from the applicant. This review process was rarely a problem for applicants as recently as a few years ago. Following an executive order in April 2017, however, H1-B applications are under additional scrutiny.

During 2015, approximately 22% of H1-B visa applicants were asked for more materials. This is formally known as a request for further evidence. During the first fiscal quarter of 2019, USCIS made requests of 60% of applicants. Requests for further evidence can be expensive for the applicants and the companies hiring them, and they can delay visa decisions by months. The approval rate for H1-B visas overall was 96% in the first quarter of 2015. For the first quarter of 2019, the overall approval rate was 75%.

People in California who have questions about H1-B applications or immigration generally might want to meet with an attorney. An attorney with experience in immigration law may be able to help clients make sure that their application documents are in order and that they do not violate rules that could hurt their chances. An attorney might also help by communicating with USCIS or other organizations on the client's behalf.

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