Are USCIS Policies Causing Significant Delays In Employment Visas?

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.

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Sweta Khandelwal

Sweta completed her Masters in Law from the University of California, Los Angeles and her JD from the Faculty of Law, Delhi University in India and has been practicing law for 15+ years getting visas, green cards, and citizenship for 1000+ clients, 100+ companies across 50+ nationalities.

Sweta has been recognized as a ” Super Lawyer, Rising Star,” and as amongst the ” Top 40 under 40″ immigration attorneys in California (American Society of Legal Advocates). She is also the recipient of the Advocacy Award by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Sweta is also a chartered accountant — the equivalent of a CPA. This makes her uniquely positioned to understand the immigration needs of her business clients in the broader context of their corporate objectives.

Sweta is actively involved with immigration issues and immigrant communities in various capacities. She has assumed key roles at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), both at the local and national level. She has been a past chair at the Santa Clara Valley Chapter at AILA and has also been involved in various practice area committees at AILA National. Sweta has addressed multiple conferences/forums in the United States and worldwide on immigration and business issues.

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