Companies continue to be denied H-1B visas at much higher rates than in the years prior to new policies established by the Trump Administration, according to research released by the National Foundation for American Policy, a nonpartisan research organization.
A report released by the group, which analyzed data from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ H-1B Employer Data Hub, found denial rates for new H-1B petitions for “initial” employment rose to 29% through the second quarter of fiscal year 2020 from 6% in fiscal year 2015.
H-1B petitions for “initial” employment are primarily for new employment, typically a case that would count against the H-1B annual limit. USCIS did not make available data for H-1B petitions for “continuing” employment — which are usually extensions for existing employees at the same company or an H-1B visa holder changing to a new employer — for the second quarter of fiscal 2020.
All top 25 employers of new H-1B professionals experienced higher denial rates for H-1B petitions for initial employment through the second quarter than in fiscal year 2015. Global IT services and outsourcing provider Infosys led the group with a denial rate of 59%, followed by IT services giant Cognizant at 52% and Deloitte — which also contracts out H-1B workers to other firms — at 41%.
In June 2020, the Trump administration suspended the entry  of foreign nationals on H-1B, L-1 and other temporary visas, citing the economic contraction due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Additional findings from the report include:
- Twenty of the 25 top companies had H-1B denial rates for initial employment at least 10 percentage points higher in FY 2020 (through the second quarter) than in FY 2015. That includes large technology companies such as Cisco and Google.
- The highest denial rates continue to be for companies that provide information technology or other business services to American companies. The data indicate USCIS has established a different standard for deciding cases for companies that provide IT services. Immigration law does not have a different standard for adjudications based on the type of firm or the location work will be performed.
- The denial rate for initial employment through the second quarter of fiscal 2020 when compared to fiscal 2015 increased by 20 percentage points or more for 10 major companies that provide IT services or other business consulting services.
- Denial rates for initial employment for H-1B petitions were generally between 1% and 5% in FY 2015 for the top employers of H-1B professionals, compared to denials rates that mostly ranged from 15% to as high as 59% through the first two quarters of FY 2020.
- In FY 2015, 16 of the 25 top companies had denial rates of 2% or lower for H-1B petitions for initial employment.
Denial rates for H-1B petitions for initial employment by fiscal year:
- 2020 (through the second quarter): 29%
- 2019: 21%
- 2018: 24%
- 2017: 13%
- 2016: 10%
- 2015: 6%
- 2014: 8%
- 2013: 7%
- 2012: 5%
- 2010: 8%
- 2009: 15%
The full report  is available online.