H-1B in 2020: Immigration Visa Faces Further Restrictions

It’s been a year of big changes for the H-1B visa—and things aren’t done yet. The next 12 months could fundamentally change everything about the visa, from who can obtain one to which types of companies will face higher rejection rates.

If current trends hold, the Trump administration will continue to tighten the screws on the H-1B application process. That’s great news for those who believe that tech and consulting companies regularly abuse the visa in order to import cheaper labor. It could also prove very bad for those companies that depend on the visa to secure what they view as highly specialized talent.

Between 2015 and 2019, the denial rate for H-1B petitions for initial employment has risen at many companies, according to a handy breakdown (PDF) by the National Foundation for American Policy (which analyzed data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)). Within big tech, the percentage increases are small but nonetheless noticeable:

At consulting and business-services firms, though, the denial rate has spiked even more precipitously over the four-year period. “At least 12 companies that provide professional or IT services to other U.S. companies, including Accenture, Capgemini and others, had denial rates over 30 percent through the first three quarters of FY 2019,” read the National Foundation for American Policy’s report on the matter. “Most of these companies had denial rates between 2 percent and 7 percent as recently as FY 2015.”

(If you look at IBM’s spike in denials in the first visualization, you can surmise that’s due to its business-services operations, as well.)

It seems unlikely that the USCIS crackdown will abate in 2020. In a statement to Mother Jones, a USCIS spokesman framed the agency’s recent moves as “designed to protect U.S. workers, cut down on frivolous petitions, strengthen the transparency of employment-based visa programs, and improve the integrity of the immigration petition process.”

That crackdown has taken many forms above and beyond rejecting initial H-1B petitions. For example, USCIS has pushed to end H-4 EAD, which allows the spouses of H-1B visa holders to work; its case for cancelation is currently winding its way through the court system. USCIS has also pushed a $10 registration fee for H-1B applications, and the companies petitioning for the visas are being subjected to more intensive questions about what exactly these workers will do if approved.

Overall, the approval rate of H-1B visas has dipped noticeably since Trump came into office. It seems likely that this trend will continue into 2020. 

H-1B Lawsuit City

In response to the crackdown, many outsourcing and consulting firms have begun firing off lawsuits against the federal government. Between 2017 and 2019, some 100 lawsuits have been filed, according to a database of cases assembled by Mother Jones in conjunction with professor Stephen Yale-Loehr of Cornell Law School.

“Lots of people are unhappy with how the agency is adjudicating the applications and they feel like they have to turn to the courts for fair adjudication because the agency is failing them,” Jill Family, an immigration law professor at Widener University, recently told Mother Jones. “The administration is trying to build all kinds of walls. It’s not just physical walls across the border. It seems like the administration’s plan is to throw as many roadblocks and then see what the courts do with it.”

Whatever the ultimate outcome of those lawsuits, what’s clear is that, in 2020 and beyond, USCIS and the Trump administration are going to ask sponsors for a lot more evidence and paperwork with regard to their H-1B petitions. On top of that, the focus on applicants’ education will only intensify. “New policies show a preference for advanced degree (master’s and higher) holders,” Russ Leimer, co-founder of CitizenPath.com, recently told Dice. Employers need to carefully analyze the need to pursue candidates with only a bachelor’s degree, making sure they will qualify. H-1B hopefuls may consider continuing their U.S. education in pursuit of an advanced degree.”

With rejections and reviews only likely to increase, only true specialists have the best chance of making through the H-1B process. Of course, that’s how the system was intended to work in the first place.

51 Responses to “H-1B in 2020: Immigration Visa Faces Further Restrictions”

  1. Maha Guru

    “With rejections and reviews only likely to increase, only true specialists have the best chance of making through the H-1B process. Of course, that’s how the system was intended to work in the first place.” — This last sentence clearly points out the issue!!! The immigration attorneys (like Bruce Morrison) who wrote the bill made sure companies can freely violate this and hence remove American workers. We do not get the best anymore; in fact, often we get low quality people replacing qualified by better paid Americans! Hope the Trump administration and beyond correct this system for the future of American tech! We have suffered a lot!!

  2. As long as there are unemployed American citizens, there should be no work visas of any kind. If a company needs to hire someone to fill a specialty role and can’t find a “qualified” candidate, then they should hire the best qualified US citizen, train him/her, and pay him/her less money to start out. It’s called patriotism – country before profits – and THAT is the proper order of thinking that companies should abide by instead of selling out the country.

    • Alarakha Alimahomed

      Absolutely i agree ,these indians have been taking over jobs through the back door ,certificates can be bought in india .all those on hib visas should be checked thoroughly and only when exausting the domestic market can be offered elsewhere.

    • Amen to that. As long as there are Americans who are unemployed they should be the ones to get this job. If an American needs to be retrained to qualify for the job he should be at the companies expense. Trump would be re-elected for sure if he shut down the foreign visa programs.

      • There are always qualified American(s) for any IT position in this country. The H1b visa(s) have cut the rungs off of entry level application developers an IT professionals. Also they’ve made it very difficult for people to transition into the IT field from other professions. A friend of minds just earned an AS in Information Technology and is unable to get a job working at a help desk. I hope Trump puts the vice grip on all employment based visa(s).

        • “A friend of minds just earned an AS in Information Technology”
          Sorry to hear that. For about 20 years now, the feds and industry have been barking “STEM shortage!” at the public, which is a farce.
          Even worse, when employers sponsor H1s for a green card, by federal law they have to advertise that job in 3 locations. (No requirement to interview, let alone hire, qualified US applicants.) This further skews the perception of “shortage”, and misleads many to sign on for expensive STEM training/certificates/degrees, for which industry has no intention of hiring. Making the Tech Ed industry a fortune in training/certificate/degrees, that leave people at a dead end with a fat bill.

    • Mitch Grassley

      If the one’s calling for visa closure truly want what they wish for then they should ask for the capital markets/wall st to be closed down, all corporates should only seek money from the fed, US $ shouldn’t be the ‘gold standard’ for forex. If you do the above, US won’t glitter in the eyes of the H1b holder (probably they’ll train their ‘guns’ on Australia :-)) & every american can get a job, get trained because profits be damned because we ain’t a capitalistic country anymore but where socialism will be all pervading messiah.

      As they say, be careful of what you wish for because it could bite you hard where it hurts (I mean your wallet 😉 )

    • Educated outsiders? Too bad than Indian colleges barely rank in the top 500 globally.

      Or that over 200,000 travel to western countries every singe year to acquire their higher education. Seems strange that we don’t have the skills apparently, yet they come here to acquire the skills.

      What folks from there are is Cheap and they’re also pretty —- at their jobs.

    • Joey Francis

      Boeing outsourced software development of the 737 Max to Infosys which pays their staff $9.00/hr and laid off their American engineers who were forced to train their Indian replacements. See what it got them. Disney laid off their American IT workers and replaced them with cheap labor. Low skilled jobs such as Business Analysts getting H1B visas, a job that does not require a technical degree. Walmart getting rid of their IT staff in Nebraska and replacing them with H1Bs. The abuse keeps going on. We need another 4 years of Trump to seriously damage these Indian body shops

    • calling_out_hidambi

      Says the poor uneducated slumdog. We all know jobs are aplenty in India and can be had “warm-body” style. 10 years of on the job training (never having really had an education — fake degree or 5th rate college paper degree) and then they are ready for the US posting. That pig I spoke to at Amazon, those Intel lady engineers (from their diversity program), Cisco, Oracle, Bosch full of these arrogant undereducated Indians. God forbid you have an interview with these uncouths — they never went to school and don’t even know what they don’t know.
      As a PhD + 2 MS (Ivy) etc … I find it frustrating to have to interview with uneducated hidambi (ogress) full of bluster, insecurity (fake it till you make it makes you a dick) and shit overall.b Say no to curry panties Indian bimbo housewife at Intel, Oracle, Juniper, Walmart yada yada

  3. IndiansSuck***

    These Indians have destroyed their own country and are coming into America. They have polluted their air, water, land everything. We can’t let these bigots into our country. If they are so highly educated then they can develop their own country. I agree with what president trump is doing. Send them back!!!!

      • AmericanSTEMWorker

        The entire country of India would move to the USA if they could. Because India is a hot overpopulated hellhole mess of corruption.

        Simple family planning, i.e. one child for each family would solve their problems in a generation or less.

        Then they wouldn’t have to come to other countries begging for handouts, and god forbid, they could actually do something innovative.

    • More than 300,000,000 don’t even have access to a toilet. They have complete screwed up that part of the planet. Yet they expect us to believe, which we don’t btw, that they are some sort of tech gurus.

      On a global scale, only a small percentage of tech has been developed by India. It’s all just back-end support crap. Which might I add, they’re pretty — at doing anyway. What India is good as it lying and scamming, it’s their MO and way of life.

  4. I think we should remove H1B visas, so all Americans get the jobs and companies will train them (RIP universities). Eventually companies will move all the software jobs to India and after a decade we will elect Trump 2.0 to bring back all the software jobs back home.This is easy because by then we already gain experience in bringing back manufacturing jobs from China.

  5. My neighbor came over on a student visa from Bulgaria and then got an H1B one and laughs about how he has manipulated the system but also how he has been taken advantage of by companies that placed him as a “consultant” at Amazon and now Expedia. He finally did an arranged marriage to a US woman (her dad was a doc from India) to get his green card.

    The people who lose their jobs are often in their 40’s and are more than qualified because they are the ones who train the guys (85% are men from India). They just arent’ willing to be high tech indentured servants.

    • “They just aren’t willing …”
      Tossing someone out of their job isn’t “they just aren’t willing…”.
      Additionally, H1s who get a green card often get a pink slip with their green card.
      Clearly industry intent is to drive down wages, as a source of ever increasing profits.
      Patriotic Millionaires, on Twitter, are well aware: No discretionary income, no discretionary income markets.

  6. IndiaSuxButCorpsSuckMore

    While it’s great that the H1B program is rejecting more applicants, the corporations previously using them are now just off-shoring their entire tech departments. As with use of illegal aliens by corporations domestically, corporations are never held accountable because they’re the ones who can afford to pay for lobbyists as well as contribute to key campaigns.
    Qualified programmers, of which the West has plenty, still get screwed over… our attention is just being diverted.

    • You are correct. As I mention in another post, I work for a Fortune 100 company and they are shifting massive IT resources and labor to India itself. In fact, I’ve befriended some who tell me they are going back to India to work their jobs in that country instead of here in the US now under the same employer. I almost wonder if US people (who want to pursue IT/IS) will need to travel to India to complete internship programs while they are in college to get some experience? Post college, it does not seem to be much of a stretch to think that they may end up needing to apply for a work Visa in such a country to have a job in the industry – given the dense population of India, though, I don’t think they would have a chance. But I think that is why most businesses have focused on India to exploit the cheap labor there. What I’m keeping an eye on is when the businesses feel those workers are too expensive and shift on over to China for the next cheap labor source…will the Indian government allow the industry they gutted from the US to be gutted from themselves to China say, in 10 or 20 years? Only time will tell if the politicians there are as corrupted as the ones here.

  7. Joseph P Longo

    “With rejections and reviews only likely to increase, only true specialists have the best chance of making through the H-1B process. Of course, that’s how the system was intended to work in the first place.”
    Nick, what happened, this is not your usual H1-B cheerleading?. Did they bring in an H1-B for you to train before they fire you?

    • Note: that is S386 (not S336). But also watch for Durbins’ “relief” act, S2603, and Rand Pauls’ “believe” act, S2091.
      Be aware that of all the Green Cards issued in 2017 (most recent stats I could find), after people from the Americas, the countries with the most Green Card recipients are India and China. The idea of granting more to people from either of these skews our demographics and suppresses worthy immigrants from other countries.
      I can only assume Durbin and Paul have received a LOT of money to cause them to take up the cause of eliminating all Green Cards for employment based workers except the Indians for years.
      Call and explain your concerns to your representatives – point out exactly WHO they should be supporting – the VOTERS.

    • “What’s your specialization – Citizen by Birth?”
      Qualified citizen. What’s your specialization, qualified cheap, visa indenture? Cheap and indenture was never the legitimate purpose of the H1 program.
      Modi needs to find some other purpose for India’s population glut, besides exporting it.

  8. Indianssuck***

    Say’s an Indian who wants to game the system and take our jobs. If you have the specialization then go to your country and stop crying foul here. Our Government needs to really take care of this H1B bullshit. Stop this immigrant crowd from taking over our Jobs. President Trump needs to be re-elected again to teach these imbeciles a taste of their own medicine. Their Prime-minister is a joker who has no education and a tea seller on the road side. How can we let these illiterate fools to take our Jobs.

  9. When I have to deal with anyone on the phone with an Indian accent in particular I make sure to complain, call back and complain again, then review the company on several websites about how I can’t waste time talking to foreigners with thick accents. In addition to this I complain through the company’s communication app, live chat, and the CFPB because as a consumer I’m not giving my PII to a foreigner so they can commit fraud. Having already dealt with fraud I have no pity for foreigners. I bet Trump wins again because Americans are fed up with the games where immigrants overstay work visas and depress wages. Start ups in the next Linked

  10. AmericanSTEMWorker

    It is about time, as someone who travels frequently to many major US areas I can attest to how bad this has gotten. IBM and Intel are staffed top to bottom with Indians. Don’t even get me started about the SF Bay Area and the frauds and nepotism there.

    Then I have to put up with their derisive attitude towards American culture. And deal with stupid Americans who perpetuate the stereotypes of Indians as tech geniuses.

    The reality is, India has not even mastered the basics of family planning, and has overpopulated itself into the mess it is in now. They can’t even provide basic sanitation to the majority of the country, because the government is such a corrupt mess. Yet we “need” them to run our country?

    No to S386. No to H1B.

  11. Who cares

    This dice and the authors just write regarding h1b to get traffic to their website. We can know all the updates on h1b on uscis website so no point to rewrite stuff here.. Nick and Dice… Run real business dude don’t play with people’s emotions to cash things

    • These news are good to know. They will only make us happier. More jobs for the American people are always good. If, on the other hand our politicians sell us out, that is good to know too, so that we vote better next time.

  12. USALovesH1Bs

    Only thing that will change is that more will be allowed to come in and grab all your good jobs. You can count on that, and there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it. They are already coming in by the plane loads and have infested themselves everywhere from colleges to top defense companies (citizenship requirements be damned). You can thank your crooked politicians, corrupt to the bone business leaders, and world class from the bottom that is sheet hole education system. This is all fake news and BS propaganda just to make you idiots feel good. The reality is trump loves them them even more and has called more than all of his predecessors combined. Oh well, enjoy your misfortunes.

  13. Anonymous

    Only change will be more are coming to grab all your good jobs and there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it. These are all BS propaganda fake news articles, don’t believe a word of it. They are coming in daily by the plane loads and have infested themselves everywhere from college campuses to top defense companies and government, citizenship requirements be damned. You can thank your crooked politicians, corrupt to the bone so called business leaders, and sheet hole education system. Trump loves these guys even more and has called more than all of his predecessors combined. Oh well, enjoy your misfortunes.

  14. While I was one of the fortunate few US citizens who was able to get hired into a Fortune 100 company with several campuses in the US (all I had was a master’s degree and several mainstream IT certifications) I was brought on at just a little over the median national wage with several years of experience. To be honest I was not surprised that I would be earning about the same as a fast food manager. What was striking to me was when I got to the campus where I would be working it was RARE to find someone else who was a US citizen. Virtually everywhere I went there were foreigners milling around. In the IT floors themselves I was one of approximately two dozen US citizens – the other 500+ were foreigners or wives of foreigners with no specialized technical skills (answering phones, doing tech support and things of that nature). Given that I had applied to dozens of businesses and went through a lot of interviews, I have the feeling that the only reason I was actually hired was that the business needed to fill some sort of minimal US citizen quota so they did not set off any discrimination or bad hiring practices alarms to the government. I’m glad I have the job, but I’m finding that I need to speak Hindi because everyone around me does.

  15. Marc Martins

    Crack-down on H1-B holders is the only policy by the Trump Administration I fully agree and support! I often have to fix outcomes by coaching Indian resources, who are replacing a more skilled American workforce. The decision to hire foreign team members is strictly financial, and it has nothing to with throughput and quality! IT SUCKS!