According to recently released government data, the USCIS is setting new records for denying immigration benefits. Under the Trump administration, the USCIS is denying 37% more immigration applications than it denied in 2016 under the Obama administration. More than 11% of applications were rejected, for both employment and family-based immigrant and non-immigrant visas. This increase is not a result of an increase in applications being filed. In fact, the total number of applications fell by 2%.
Specifically, the USCIS has denied:
- 10% of employment authorization (EAD) applications, up from 6% in 2016;
- 18% of advance parole (or travel authorization) applications, up from less than 9% in 2016;
- 23% of temporary foreign worker (e.g. H-1B) applications, up from 17% in 2016;
- 9% of permanent worker (employment-based green card) applications, up from 6% in 2016;
- 21% of fiancé petitions, up from 14% in 2016.
No legislation has been passed to explain these significant changes. Instead, it is a direct result of the Trump administration making legal immigration harder. For example, the USCIS has doubled and tripled the length of forms necessary for various immigration applications, making mistakes much more common. Under a new policy, the USCIS is now able to deny more applications outright, even if based on simple errors, without giving the applicant a chance to correct the mistake. Additionally, the increase in denials is a direct result of Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, after which the USCIS significantly increased the rate of Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and eliminated deference given to prior approvals, amongst other policy changes.
Unfortunately, the impact of the denials does not only negatively impact the immigrants, their families, and their employers. According to the Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell, reduced immigration and a decrease in foreign workers will slow economic growth for the country as a whole.
For more information or to discuss the ramifications of the increase in denials, please contact an attorney at Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C.