H-1B Visa Approvals Declining, Despite Critics’ Claims

Critics of the H-1B program have complained that the Trump administration’s attempts at reform have been minor and ineffective. But is that actually true?

When we look at data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), we can see that the approval rate of H-1B petitions has dipped significantly since late 2016. (Hat tip to Quartz for putting this data in a handy CSV format.)

In tandem with the approval rate dipping, the percentage of H-1B applications hit with requests for evidence (RFEs) has crept steadily upwards, indicating that the Trump administration’s requests for greater scrutiny of visas are being followed within USCIS:

Other reports indeed seem to indicate that the Trump administration’s tweaks are having an impact. In the most recent HackerRank DevSkills report, for instance, roughly a quarter of surveyed tech pros said the administration’s immigration policies had discouraged them or someone they know from applying to jobs in the U.S. Moreover, nearly one-fifth (17.20 percent) reported they were unable to get a visa to work in the United States.

Many of the changes to the H-1B program stem from President Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order, which he signed two years ago. Since then, the government has suspended premium processing of H-1B petitions (before resuming it), signaled an intention to kill H-4 EAD, and planned to completely change how the H-1B lottery is run. 

But Trump himself has also suggested a willingness to keep the H-1B program running (which would reverse his campaign-trail position that the visa was “very bad” for American workers and should be killed). In January, he Tweeted that “changes” to program would “bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay,” as well as a “potential path to citizenship”: 

It remains to be seen how the H-1B program might change during the rest of Trump’s term, but in the meantime, visa approvals are clearly trending down—and have been for some time.

67 Responses to “H-1B Visa Approvals Declining, Despite Critics’ Claims”

    • Yuriy Koblents-Mishke

      The table a-7 is irrelevant concerning H1-B, because many foreign born working in the US are US citizens. Some of them where born when their US citizens parents, e.g. military or business executives / professionals who served / worked abroad. Other naturalized, often decades ago, often in early childhood.

  1. Indians are not entitled to jobs in America. If you are so skilled and advanced, then uplift your own companies in India. Americans are tired of being unfairly misplaced because of h1b workers. People from India come here and form pacts within their department/team to attempt to gain leadership positions and hire Indians. Americans have already fought for our rights to fair employment and now we have to fight this battle all over again. Go back to India

        • Raj, you cannot speak proper English.
          Your statement is wholly untrue !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • yurakm

        “conculting firm” with two ‘c’? People who make spelling errors in resume are not invited to interviews. Even if English is not their native language.

    • Stephen Wetzelberger

      We need to train American youth to do the work. No need to bring people here unless they truly have unique talents or skills. And if you offshore the work, there should be a tariff like ask other good and services.

      • Guest

        It’s hard to convince American students to go into STEM when three out of four American STEM grads can’t find work in their fields.

        For the past twenty-five years, a computer science major in college has been a one-way ticket to cutthroat wage competition against foreigners who live in mud huts and get paid two cents a month. You can hardly blame the best and the brightest we have for seeing that and understanding it–and choosing business, law, or medicine instead of computer science.

        Get rid of H1B visa status. Get rid of work visas altogether. Round the foreigners up and ship them all back home. Make it illegal for US corporations to outsource US jobs to foreign countries. When people see that decent wages and job security can be found in the CS field, they’ll take care of the rest. Until that happens you’re complaining that not enough Americans are willing to commit themselves to lives of poverty and uncertainty.

        • Raj RomyRomy

          You’re absolutely right. I come from India now living overseas for almost 18 years have experienced it first hand. If US doesn’t shut it borders parasites will keep coming in droves. The very talented ones from there are picked up by R&D firms at the salary equivalent to their US counterparts and the left over garbage is given H1B through C grade Indian IT companies.

          Just do some search on Google on how they hire, the process, the colleges, it’s reputation and the cadre of students, everything is C grade and they are the ones who spoil the world market.

          • Carla Ayers

            I have been surprised, and relieved, how many talented professionals from India agree with this. From what I understand, low-grade universities and recruiting firms seem to have the talent to provide false certifications, fictitious resumes and more lies to secure jobs for the unqualified … and little else. It is disappointing that hiring companies don’t “look into the horse’s mouth”. Talent isn’t a free gift that’s handed over. Talent comes with value and cost, and is developed to qualify for jobs and fulfill opportunities, for both the company and the individual.

    • Walter Cook

      Like when UST-Global paid training programs for veterans and woman that are U.S. citizens for the IT field. Than they place them with a company for 12 months so that company can hire them at the end of that period. Let’s not forget infosys that has hired more Americans than American companies. You are correct those Indian companies are real scum bags.

    • I agree. I have lost two jobs due to this. I find it strange how much college cost that so many people from other countries can come here and get degrees. Most are from poor countries. So are they getting it free? Or is this the reason it cost so much I’m paying for it.

    • Agreed. Why does this article seem to operate under the assumption that we need to make H-1B visas easier? US companies have no right to import indentured cheap labor to undercut US wages and jobs. Offer competitive pay and stop trying to short-circuit the natural market forces inside the USA.

    • Agreed ! Read ” Sold Out” How High-Tech Billionaires & Bipartisan Beltway Crapweasels Are Screwing America’s Best & Brightest Workers by Michelle Malkin and John Miano

    • Edward G

      Well said and I’m so glad someone has the balls to say it. I’m actually fed up with it.

      I have over 25 years of Oracle experience yet have a hard time finding work because of this. I was at 3 tech phone-screen interviews with both Michaels (crafts) and CRBE 2 years ago when each had me in for a face-to-face. After talking with 2 Indians at Michaels and just one at CRBE (all Indian staff, BTW – they walked me through the tech area), I never heard from either again.

      I worked at Bank of America a while back and in my group of 37, 34 were from India and I’d say over 50-60% of the workforce is Indian. Maybe more when you consider “off-shore”. It’s a joke.

      What’s also annoying now, aside that every tech group had more Indians than Americans, is that they all talk among themselves in their native dialect. Back in the late 90’s most were requested to talk English in the workplace at all times as it is the common business language. This is no longer the case as they dominate the workforce and simply have no class in regards to this.

      Keep in mind, too, that greedy businesses like the ones I noted, are to blame for this as well.

    • Mathew

      Lol… I see lot of Americans crying over here but the reality is we cannot survive and run our companies without these Indian Folks. I am saying this as a project manager. These Indian folks works harder than any other nationals. They will work even on weekends & holidays if we have any major issues in production. I wanted to know how many of you are ready to work on your dayoffs even if your employer agreed to pay. Hardly 20% of American students does their undergrad and don’t even ask me about grad. In those 20% how many can be employed? and how will we run these companies? It is easy to point out someone because there are successful. Same way we cry about Mexican people coming into our country this country will not run for even one month without Mexican labour. Are the Americans ready to do the odd jobs as Mexicans? American youth is busy in doing drugs, partying they don’t have time and skills to work in IT.

  2. Why the concern? The only thing that Trump has changed is which H-1Bs get approved. Congress has authorized 85,000 and 85,000 it will be. Not a change. The only thing Trump has changed is that the rules laid down by Congress be followed instead of rubber stamping every application as previously done. No matter how many applications are made or how many are approved 85,000 American jobs go to foreigners. Trump has not changed that.

    • At least he made it harder for these people to qualify. Since he made it harder to get approved it required them to increase more applications. Each application has a fee. More applications, more money for us.
      It would be better for American citizens just to shut this program down; but meanwhile let’s fleece these Indian people.

  3. I don’t understand what’s the point in showing percentages, since the approval number is the same every year. Obviously if more people are applying for H1B, then more people will be rejected, since the approved number is fixed.

    The number that needs to be investigated is the unemployment rate, which is at 3.6% and going down. This means that workers are not suffering unemployment and H1B approvals should be increased to allow more growth of the economy.

    • Wrong assumption. Unemployment low doesn’t mean because we run out of people to work. It could mean that going to work is not worth it for these people. Would you work for someone if they pay you barely a subsisting salary when you can spend your time doing nothing or doing something personal and have the same qualify of life?

      • guest

        The Obama Administration got caught in 2012 cooking the books on unemployment figures by diddling the figures so that it would seem to go down. The Official Truth cannot be believed.

        If you want to see what the economy is really like, I recommend looking at the labor force participation rate figures. They are also suspect, being a product of the Deep State, produced without independent verification, by politically motivated individuals. Nonetheless labor force participation rate figures are at the same anemic numbers they were in the US in the 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression. The difference is that nearly twenty million Americans now live on “SSI” disability payments, a burden the rest of us must carry. Of course 99% of them are obviously fraudulent, but “SSI” is a “Great Society” era program created to encourage and normalize government dependence, so investigating fraud has never been a priority.

        Ask anyone who’s looking for work, particularly anyone who’s looking for something other than flipping burgers or scrubbing hotel room toilets.

    • I agree. Bank of America is a big example for this. I have personally witnessed reporting to a manager sitting in India. This sucks!!! Issue is also with corporate leadership in US companies who are native born US citizens. They are driven by huge bonuses to save money for the companies to create such strategies.

  4. jake_leone

    The Trump administration is simply applying the existing H-1b law. Where the Obama administration left if up to whistleblowers to root out existing H-1b, OPT, and B-1 abuses. What’s better? Well by getting thing straightened out, before the H-1b holder gets settled, they can have a more secure position.

    1. Employer – Employee relationship (no benching workers and expecting the worker to find the contract).
    2. Adequate education documentation.
    3. Enough work to cover the term of the visa (typically 3-years)

    Hey if you can’t prove those 3 things, then you don’t and never did meet the minimum requirements for the H-1b visa.

    • jake_leone

      One other thing,
      4. that the work is a specialty that requires your advanced education. Many employers are using the h-1b to fill low-level positions, such as Quality Assurance. Jobs which require only computer knowledge. Scripting, SQL, System debugging, are common skill among American workers today, they are not a specialty. Such skills can be acquired from community college courses.

      • Loren

        some H1 Visa filled with lower level position that only need high school and some college, also they get good paid for doing simple things. plus no fluent English.
        since if you hired and sponsored H1 visa. you have to pay minimum wages. they false with other bonus. or just change time from 80 hours to 60 hours biweekly

  5. Maha Guru

    As the local STEM graduation rates is rising fast, there is absolutely no need to get H-1B !! H-1B should be used for its original purpose – only for jobs which Americans cannot fill. As many have already exclaimed, nothing has changed! Rejection rates are somewhat higher, but the population of H-1B in this country keeps increasing making sure that real wage growth is low, age discrimination is super high, and American workers keep getting displaced.

  6. IT_mafia

    The real issue is the India Mafia in IT. Got nothing against any race but the truth is they are only hiring their own kind breaking American HR hiring policies and diversity requirements. Almost a reverse discrimination.

    Also IT dealings is also becoming Mafia like and illegal kickback dealings amongst vendors and practices.

    One example Indian hiring manager hires 3 of his people from his circle gives them $100 an hour but has agreement that he will get $30 an hour. Saw one eyes he gets $90 an hour gets them a long term contract and Manager leaves gets another job making more money.

    Corporate America CFOs need to wake up to the scams going on in IT departments they are doing the same corruption like their original country of origin.

  7. Srikanth

    American companies shouldn’t outsource work. That’s the root cause for everything and that’s how so many Indians are working here. Who is getting ultimate benefit ? At the end it’s American companies saving millions. Please fight to stop outsourcing IT work.

  8. The so call skilled Indians are trained on the job. I know because I am training them to take over the company I have worked for 13 years. In the last 3 years I have seen 6 US citizens laid off and replaced by Indians. Those laid off workers have more experience than the whole Indian offshore office. Anyone applying for a position with this company will interview with a noncitizen transplant. Who knew nothing of the industry or company before they accepted their current position. They pay offshore employees 3 to 5 dollars an hour. The billing rate to the company is the same if they place an experienced US worker or are placing one of their street vendors to learn on the job. They are not saving the company money by hiring offshore. Eventually, the IT industry will go away like the textile industry.

  9. I have 4 years of experience as a Quality Assurance Engineer and have applied to many jobs in California. The people hiring are Indian and are very biased in the interview with me. They always ask if I can communicate well with off shore teams. They don’t have high EQ and companies hire them because they pay them a lower salary and few benefits. It is not fair to me because I have the same skills, just not the 8+ years of experience they require.

    These tech companies claim that they cannot find specialized American workers with these skills. It’s a lie. The biggest change trump needs to make is for these companies to pay the H1B the same salary and same benefits that a US Citizen would be paid. Then we’ll see things change. I’m so fed up that I’m starting my own tech company now.

  10. Don’t be fooled by the low unemployment rate. The only increase in jobs are in fast food and low level positions. Many older IT pros have lost their jobs and cannot find work. Stop H1-B now!

  11. Chuck

    Critics of the H-1B program have complained that the Trump administration’s attempts at reform have been minor and ineffective. But is that actually true?

    Yes, it’s true; until the number is zero.

    Scrap the visa program. India has more than enough problems for the “brilliant” and the “essential” to solve.

    • If No H1B visa then No income for USA through this program! Where they get Billions of dollars every year without which No revenues! Economy will blow away and Dollar value drops significantly! It’s mutual benefit to both countries. Trump is not an Idiot, He is brilliant in terms of How to make more money!

      These Visa programs are creating jobs for Americans in the US as well as in other countries. Respect everyone being humans!!!

      • Stop spreading this nonsense false Indian propaganda here. The stupid Indian NASSCOM third rated institution comes up with this trash. Completely fudging the facts. H1B to the Indian outsourcing companies has done more damage to US than hiring a brilliant resource. And brilliant resource anywhere in the world comes with a price tag. The fact is that outsourcing is keeping lowly educated Indians employed who know nothing about their jobs and what they are supposed to do.

  12. This article is a complete distortion of reality and ridiculous on its face. These percentages are irrelevant and meaningless. The only thing that matters is numbers, not percentages, and the numbers still show max limit every year. On top of letting in the max every year, many don’t leave when their employment is over. They are also ruining the recruiting field in the US. The displacement is vast and wide. Disgusting. The program needs to be shut down permanently and over half removed and deported.

    • RobinHood

      Yes, exactly. Trump is pussyfooting around here remembering who got him into office, Indian trolls jamming up social media with propaganda. Where does his loyalty lie? Not with American IT / STEM workers that’s for sure. If it did he would have already eliminated the H1B entirety ot at least halved the total. Force greedy American companies like Accenture, IBM, Dell, et al to hire citizens first.

  13. Paul Thompson

    H1B visa needs to be limited. US citizens and Green cars holders are losing job. They come and take all jobs to India. Don’t forget what happened Disney and other US companies when TCS( Tata Consultancy), Infosys put their step in US soil. Very bad practice.

  14. ByronClaghornBBy

    Don’t blame Trump, he has started to address the problems of the H-1B and many other wasteful programs — Blame Congress! Congress is responsible for the blanket 85,000 (whether we need them or not) authorizations for H-1B per year!

    Be careful who you vote for in 2020 to help Trump straighten the H-1B and long-abused Immigration Problems & Crisis that affect your jobs and all American Workers as well as contribute unnecessarily to our growing national debt!

  15. Walker

    Dice seems extremely concerned with H1-B visas. Seems like around 75% of emails have a focus on H1-B issues. Obviously this program is controversial or it wouldn’t make such a good subject.

    I think everyone has an understanding that H1-Bs are abused and heavily used by employers to save money by undercutting American workers. All of these emails kind of dance around this obvious point, but I haven’t read one that actually analyzes this widespread assumption.

    The other assumption is simply that this administration is anti-immigrant and is using any means necessary to keep non-Americans out. It would also be useful to analyze which country’s citizens are awarded the most H1-B visas, because this administration also seems to have an issue with citizens from some countries more than others. It would be interesting to read if there was any correlation between visa decreases and national origin.

    • Joseph Burns

      Drive by any tech company in Silicon Valley, like Sunnyvale during lunch time, and see the people walking around. You’ll notice they are all from India (ok maybe +90%). Flip it the other way…let’s say they all turned white – people/politicians/government would go nuts.

  16. No One

    I live in Philadelphia and when they opened up Comcast’s latest skyscraper, I noticed there were a LOT of Indian people on the train. They got off in Center City on my stop and I noticed they all were heading to this newly opened building. It was at least 30 of them, and I could tell they were employees because they were wearing the building’s ID badges. I’m sitting back like wow, did Comcast just recruit from one of their overseas call centers or something. It’s ridiculous.

  17. Cristian

    H1B is 85k please check how many business visas were approved. They came for 3 months work and then replaced by new people for other 3 months..and so on

    Those were millions

  18. I am not an American. I have been living for 3 years in the USA. I had some interviews with Microsoft. I was not hired because of Indians. Indians hire for their team only Indians in Microsoft.Hiring managers are Indians, program managers are Indians also. Already discrimination and favoritism is the mission of Microsoft that is why windows is full of malware.

    • DSim491

      Rudy, you are exactly right. Xerox corp did the same thing. Brought in HCL who discriminated against Americans. They would rather put a very unqualified Indian in a job over an American. They post false claims on walls to start the H1 process to say they can’t find qualified Americans. They lie about everything. Xerox got rid of 1000’s of US employees to outsource and in the end costs them more money with far less quality. We sent folks over to train their replacements and they come back and get canned.

  19. barnaby33

    Reading the first dozen or so posts I’m reminded of a quote by one of the founders of OKCupid. “If human stupidity is the currency of the internet, then our database holds a strong cash position.” Excessive H1-B visa grants are almost as dangerous as none. I say this as someone who’s seen many of the skills he once worked in commodified and either moved overseas or farmed out to bucket shops that specialize in H1-B indentured servitude. There is no easy solution, as yes importing foreign workers will always increase competition and put ceilings on salaries. However if we don’t import them, we lose even more, economically and culturally. The US century is ending (with our dominance of oil.) Best we attempt to import the better elements of other societies to our mutual benefit. Now chain migration, that’s a bum steer, but a completely different topic.

  20. H-1b approvals declining, nothing wrong it but it may be for staffing companies or small employers but I don’t think approval rating declining for multinational companies, research or other US based giants etc. What about F1/L1/J/Chain Immigration/Free Green Cards?
    Think for US citizens and their survival. They don’t have any other country to go.
    Also please have only US born citizens for government jobs to protect and save US.

  21. Carlos

    Close all the Indian recruitment companies. A nice class-action discrimination lawsuit backed by the US government should do the trick. Right now, Americans still can’t get past the initial screening interview.

  22. Renee

    Why not get rid of this program altogether? We should be providing the training to our citizens and employing our citizens. In our city, Intel has imported their workforce while citizens are not able to get jobs there. They take our jobs and then hire other H1Bs and block our citizens. This is absurd! I have known people who married Australian and Canadian citizens who wanted to move to those respective countries and were not allowed to go to those countries because they would take a job away from a citizen. We need to hire our citizens and stop importing labor, which is taking away jobs from our citizens. I don’t buy that they have special skills not present in our citizens, that is absolutely ridiculous. Also, H1 B visas are very expensive and could be applied to salaries of citizens.

  23. RobinHood

    I also want to mention that I was recruited for a US company in a tech role by two Indians working for a US firm. They talked to me like I was mentally disabled. I received five interview “reminder” calls. Five. I wanted to say @&ck off, because it was clearly intentional. I’ve been out of work for so long that I had no choice but to take this low paying contract job offered to me by a non-citizen in my own country.

    The company I was fired from last year still employees dozens of Indian citizens all living and buying houses in a very expensive area of NJ. I worked in tech for twenty years and I can’t find a job that pays enough to support my family. I’m very good at what I do and I have a great work ethic. I studied CIS. I continually sharpen my skills. It’s not me—and no bs “positive thinking” zombie is going to convince me otherwise.

    India is running our country folks. Did you ever call your bank after 5PM? How about the big three credit reporting agencies? Credit card companies? Tech support? All India, all the time. They have access to our ss#s, phones, bank accounts, credit cards—everything. So exactly when is our government going to wake the feck up?