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Trump Administration's Denials of H-1B Visas Are Being Overturned at Record Rate

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President Trump signing the 'Buy American and Hire American' executive order

President Donald Trump's signing of the "Buy American and Hire American" executive order in April 2017 signaled the start of the administration's new restrictions on H-1B visas.

As part of its efforts to "hire American," the Trump administration since 2017 has been aggressively denying applications for H-1B visas. Yet a record number of those denials have been overturned on appeal, suggesting that the administration has been wrongfully rejecting qualified applicants for these coveted visas for high-skilled immigrants.

The denial rate for first-time H-1B applications went up from 10 percent in 2016 to 24 percent in 2019. H-1B visas, also known as tech visas, are temporary work permits filed by American businesses that want to hire high-skilled immigrants for jobs where there's a shortage of domestic workers. The visas are widely used by the technology industry, but are also issued to universities, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and management consultants.

Between the 2014 and 2017 fiscal years, the federal immigration agency's Administrative Appeals Office reversed about 3 percent of the H-1B decisions it reviewed. Yet in 2018, it overruled the federal immigration agency in nearly 15 percent of H-1B appeals. It remanded more than 7 percent of decisions, sending them back to be reevaluated; compared with 4 percent in the previous four years.

Immigration attorneys say many H-1B cases that would have been slam-dunk approvals during the Obama administration are now being improperly denied, which would explain the increase in reversals upon appeal.

From Reveal
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