IT professionals have been hit the hardest by current USCIS policy changes to restrict the H-1B program without statutory basis.  In 2015, the Denial rate for H-1B petitions was just 6%.  This year, that number has reached 24% across industries, but IT companies have been hit the hardest.

Twelve IT companies that saw Denial rates of just 2-7% in 2015 now report Denial rates over 30%.  Prominent IT company Infosys saw a jump in H-1B Denials from 2% in 2015 to 45% in FY 2019.  Even major tech companies saw exponential increases in Denial rates from 2015%.  Amazon jumped from 1% to 6% and Intel jumped from 1% to 8%.

The National Foundation for American Policy reported, “Memos and policy changes […] make it more difficult for well-educated foreign nationals to work in America in science and engineering fields.”

This is bad news for US STEM industries because the United States does not have the highly skilled STEM workforce needed to meet the demand for the specialty occupations that make up the structure of these industries.  The effects of these restrictive policies are already being felt with US-based IT companies moving their hiring to overseas where they can be sure their workforce will be approved without Denials or multiple costly rounds of RFEs.  International companies are hesitant to expand their business to the United States for this same reason, and highly skilled foreign workers are taking their talents elsewhere.

If you or your employee or client is an IT professional petitioning for H-1B status, here is what you need to know about preventing and answering an RFE or Denial based on current USCIS approval trends:

1. Have a full work itinerary for the duration of the H-1B visa.

In recently declassified USCIS memos, it came to light that adjudicators have been instructed to require a full schedule of the H-1B employee’s workload for the entirety of the H-1B visa to meet the H-1B eligibility employer-employee relationship requirement.  While this is one of the questionable adjudicating factors that USCIS is getting pushback for, it is advisable to provide this information to optimize your chances of visa approval.

2. Include an expert opinion letter that discusses the wage level and the specialty occupation.

Over the past few years, occupations that had never before been called into question regarding their level of specialization are now regularly receiving RFEs for this issue.  Computer programmers and professionals making level one wages are particularly vulnerable.  This can be prevented or addressed in an RFE or Denial response with an expert opinion letter written by a professional in the industry of the H-1B job who has extensive field experience.  It’s on the petitioner and beneficiary to provide detailed documentation that clearly shows the specialized duties of the job, the ad for the job showing an advanced degree requirement, ads for the same position at similar companies that have the advanced degree requirement, a breakdown of factors that went into setting the wage level, and any other documentation you can provide that shows the job requires a highly specialized body of knowledge and skill to perform.  The opinion letter should cover both the job and the wage level.  At CCI TheDegreePeople.com we work with experts in all H-1B industries with the experience required for USCIS to accept their opinion letters.

3. If the beneficiary’s degree is from outside of the United States – ESPECIALLY if it is an Indian three-year bachelor’s degree – or if the degree is in a specialization different from the H-1B job, include a credential evaluation.

Any degree that was earned outside of the United States, is not an exact match for the H-1B job, or is incomplete, will need a credential evaluation that fills in any gaps between the degree the beneficiary has and the degree the beneficiary needs.  This is particularly true for beneficiaries with the Indian three-year bachelor’s degree as USCIS requires the missing fourth year to be accounted for.  This can be done with a work experience conversion wherein one year of college credit in the field of the job can be granted by a professor with the authority to grant college credit for work experience for three years of progressive work experience.  A detailed breakdown of course content and work experience conversions can be used to prove the beneficiary has the equivalency of the right degree in the right career to get that visa approved.  At CCI TheDegreePeople.com we work with difficult educational cases every year and we research and write each credential evaluation uniquely, with respect to the individual, the education, the H-1B job, and USICS approval trends, and we are very successful.

Current USCIS approval trends are unprecedentedly restrictive, and RFEs and Denials are getting overturned at record rates because USCIS is legally adjudicating them wrong.  However, taking steps to prevent an RFE or Denial is always worth the added effort on the front end, and knowing what you’re up against is most of the battle to successfully answer an RFE or Denial.

If you or your employee or client is facing an H-1B RFE or Denial, we can help.  We work with difficult cases every year and we get results.  For a free review of your case visit ccifree.com/.  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less.