USA TODAY: "Study: Work visas being denied at a higher rate"

by Joseph McKeown

US Citizenship & Immigration Services is denying L-1B specialized knowledge petitions at a higher rate, increasing nearly five-fold in the past six years, according to a report (here in PDF) by the National Foundation for American Policy, a non-partisan organization dedicated to public policy research on trade, immigration, and education. The report notes:

While as recently as FY 2006 the denial rate for L-1B petitions was 6 percent, the denial rate for L-1B petitions rose to 34 percent in FY 2013, after rising to 30 percent in FY 2012 – a more than five-fold increase in the rate of denials despite no new regulation changing the adjudication standard...Time consuming Requests for Evidence (RFE) from adjudicators for L-1B petitions also continued at a high level – 46 percent in FY 2013. That means in 2013 about half of petitions to transfer in employees with specialized knowledge were either denied or delayed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services adjudicators.

USA Today reports that Stuart Anderson, the executive director of the foundation and former head of policy and counselor to the Commissioner of the INS (now USCIS), said the denial increase lines up with the country's recession, noting: "'Some people may have had the impression that by keeping companies from transferring in employees that that somehow was going to promote American jobs[.]'"

Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports lower levels of immigration ("low-immigration, pro-immigrant," they state), notes that L-1A approvals for international managers and executives has increased which "'is a clear indication that getting them is not very hard,'" and that as a consequence "'more and more companies are trying to take advantage of the program at a time of record rates of joblessness and stagnate wages for U.S.-born workers and legal immigrants already here.'"