Shortly after the President of United States signed the ‘Buy American, Hire American’ presidential executive order in 2018, USCIS began to increase the number of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and denials for H1B visa petitions. There is also a similar situation for L1 visa petitions including both L1A visa and L1B visa applications.
Inability to obtain US visas in a timely manner are surely affecting economic growth and job creation in the United States. To be able to obtain a US visa was already very difficult under the previous President Obama, it is even more difficult under the current President.
How to respond to an H1B RFE
RFE’s might tell you what documents USCIS is looking for. As an example, USCIS might be looking for your transcripts from school which need to be attested. These are direct and pointed requests that USCIS might ask you.
In some other cases, RFE might ask supporting evidence on topics that are more difficult. As an example – RFE might ask – Why is this worker being hired for this role under STEM category when they have non STEM undergraduate degree.
As described in the examples above, some of the RFE can be fulfilled by an individual easily, but others require immigration lawyers to extensively look and prepare, before responding to RFE. In either case, it is extremely important to be judicious in your approach and it is critical to revisit your entire application along with supporting pieces of evidence. This might be your last chance to get an H1.
How to document and send your RFE responses?
- Have a copy of RFE for your records. You will have to submit the original RFE document in your responses to USCIS.
- Have a cover page that clearly lists your response to USCIS questions along with supporting documentation. Label documents and arrange it in sections, which will ease the reading and review by USCIS officials. Create copies of all your responses before you send to USCIS.
- Where ever possible, try to include hard facts including supporting documentation (e.g. Research papers published in journals, W2 records, official school transcripts, etc.)
Highlights about H1B RFE in 2019
Indian applicants received the most RFE’s for visa applications than any other country. USCIS generally issues an RFE, when they require additional information to scrutinize the applications to ensure if the H1B worker does the job they claim and if they undercut American worker wages.
As part of President’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ executive order, H1B, and L1 visa adjudications are becoming tougher in a bid to prevent highly skilled foreign nationals from working in the US and undercutting American wages.
The reality of tougher adjudications for visa applications means that a foreign-born, highly skilled engineers potentially face deportation from the US if their H1B/L1 visa petition is declined.
Meanwhile, another newly launched policy enables US officials to refuse applications, without having to issue an RFE or give employers a chance to correct information on an application. This gives greater power to US officials to make a final decision on a visa application in an expedited manner.
Other related news:
Also, USCIS and Department of Labor is considering stopping the H4 EAD program which has benefited many while they wait for their Green Cards.
Rumors are also circling around about possible scrutiny on the current Optional Practical Training (OPT) program after students complete their studies, even if they have degrees in science, technology engineering, and math (STEM) fields. This involves decreasing the OPT period from 24/36 months down to 12 months.
We will keep you updated as things progress along.