H-1B Denials Crushed Consulting, Business Services Firms Last Year

We now have H-1B data for all four quarters of fiscal year 2019, which emphasizes a trend that’s been underway for the entirety of the Trump administration: denial rates for the visa are way up compared to the pre-Trump years, and consulting and business-services firms are seeing the biggest impact.

The National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) regularly digests and analyzes data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Its previous breakdowns of H-1B data (including the most recent one in October 2019) have shown that USCIS is enforcing a tighter legal standard when it comes to H-1B petitions, firing off additional Requests for Evidence (RFEs) in an ever-higher percentage of cases.

With four quarters of fiscal year 2019 data in hand, the NFAP’s new report (PDF) makes it clear that the denial rates for initial H-1B petitions remains much higher than pre-2016 years. Take a look:

Moreover, NFAP provides a company-by-company breakdown of H-1B denials. It’s illuminating to see how drastically things have changed for some companies since 2015:

As NFAP’s latest update makes clear, Indian consulting firms such as Tech Mahindra have experienced the steepest declines over the past four years, and now account for 6 percent of the 85,000 H-1B petitions for companies (that’s 0.003 percent of the U.S. labor force, if you’re keeping store at home).

“Denials may have contributed to this decline but the primary reason for the drop in H-1B visas is a choice by companies to build up their domestic workforce in the United States and rely less on visas,” NFAP wrote in a note accompanying the data. “Moreover, these and similar companies are part of an industry trend when servicing clients to use more digital services, such as cloud computing, ‘bots’ and artificial intelligence, which require fewer workers.”

That’s good news for those critics who feel that the H-1B visa is a tool that technology companies use to bring aboard talent at artificially suppressed prices. But that being said—and as the NFAP data makes clear—the rate of denials has crept down slightly over the past year, while Dice’s separate analysis of USCIS data shows that the rate of initial H-1B approvals (as well as approvals post-RFE) has crept up slightly. In other words, it remains to be seen whether the denial rates will continue to decline precipitously over the next year, or whether we’re going to see things beginning to level off.

In addition, other trends—most notably automation—could end up having a seismic effect on employment over the next decade or so. H-1B is a major issue in tech, especially in certain cities, but it’s not the only one that could determine how companies and employees operate in coming years.

45 Responses to “H-1B Denials Crushed Consulting, Business Services Firms Last Year”

    • DOUBLE GOOD! Kill that program before Trump leaves office. And call senators to have them kill s.386 before they pass the “we don’t have enough H1-B workers” or “screw AMERICAN college graduates” or “FU American tech workers” bill

  1. Maha Guru

    If you took at the sheer numbers (NOT the rates), the number of approved applications of continuing employment has increased DRAMATICALLY across the board. Only initial applications have dropped! To really make any dent in H1B population, the continuing employment approvals for H1B has to drop significantly!

    • Mark Murphy

      We are not only doing a disservice to American workers in general but also POC, especially Black Americans.
      If we want to improve standards of Americans and in particular the minorities, we need more than STEM education. We need to ensure better access to jobs. Community College-educated folks can do most of the back office jobs done by these Indians with fake resumes. Imagine the dent we would make in inequality & social mobility.

  2. John P

    Good. For every 50,000 Stem graduates in Computer Science in USA, there are about 500,000 comparable openings in Tech Sector which require high level of education. This should bode well for the Americans. No they will have 516,000 jobs. If we consider the 16,000 applications which are getting denied per year out of the 80,000 pool. USA knows a thing or two about immigration

    • Wrong title, should be “H1-B Approvals crushed AMERICAN IT workers Income” or how about “H1-B Approvals destroy future for AMERICAN Tech workers” or “ H1-B Approvals lead to underemployment for recent grads too stupid to know how badly they have been SCREWED”

  3. H1B Approval rating is still good. Not sure the denial data above was final decision or employer requested for reconsideration of decision and then approved. Mostly approved after re-appeal.
    H1B Cap season now, look how companies filing cases without any project. Lets see whether h1s can be denied only for employer under 25 employees or law is same for all.
    Government forgetting local talent.

  4. Rick Morrow

    It’s a good start. We need to stop all of the labor dumping on US shores. The American Competitiveness And Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 caused lasting damage to the American workforce. As the dot com bubble popped, millions of cheap foreign workers were dumped on an already depressed labor market. I was out of work for 2½ years without unemployment benefits because I was a contractor who lost their job as a direct result of the World Trade Center bombings. After finally finding work, I had to endure a reduction in pay of between 40 and 60 percent until the TARP programs abolished the us of H-1b visas by the banks. in 2008. This was a seven year depression that cost my life savings and my retirement. There are many people like myself who were devastated by these programs. Where is my bailout?

  5. Shawn Scott

    Good! But those are rookie numbers, we need them up higher!! Those visa’s were intended for high skilled workers, and from what I’ve seen that hasn’t been the case.

    • Right on! Not only do millions of foreign workers displace minorities from getting better jobs, but let’s not forget they also compete for housing. And most often it is the same kind housing that Americans who can’t buy a house yet are seeking to find. This is not xenophobia, it is math.

      • Tried to explain same facts to a Democrat colleague who complained about his compensation. He called me a RACIST! and he was a numbers/data guy — why are liberals so stupid they defend the indefensible while self-imolating?

    • Mark Murphy

      We are not only doing a disservice to American workers in general but also POC, especially Black Americans.
      If we want to improve standards of Americans and in particular the minorities, we need more than STEM education. We need to ensure better access to jobs. Community College-educated folks can do most of the back office jobs done by these Indians with fake resumes. Imagine the dent we would make in inequality & social mobility.

  6. Great! So that’s why so many of us have high tech jobs again! That and the booming economy that the Administration has engendered. After a few years of being out of high tech employment I got back in and my company has been hiring like mad. (Based on real sales revenues, not venture capital.)

  7. GOOD! It would be even better if we could bankrupt these consulting firms. Stop allowing them to siphon off part of employee pay to run their firms. Make companies start hiring people full time who work for a company year after year.

  8. Stop the Indian Tech Takeover

    While the conclusions of NFAP and Kolakowski (the author) make the rejection rate sound like rainbows and lollipops to their target audience, it doesn’t actually stand-up to reality, which is this:
    Corporations that can’t bring over foreign (and consistently less qualified) ‘experts’ are choosing to off-shore development instead… which is sadly a big win for Indian contracting companies. They get to keep their dev’s in India (no flights, no rents, no food costs, etc) while also training more of them on Western projects. I’ve seen this happening at a large number of banks, at least.

    The Trump administration doesn’t seem willing to punish corporations that do this, unfortunately. What we’re reading here is just smoke and mirrors.

  9. And see if you can find the Tucker Carlson segment that addresses this topic. It was on last night, 4-MAR-2020. AT&T looks bad, but so do a lot of other companies.

  10. Every company I have worked with last year had either H1B staff replacing locals/green card holders or had work outsourced. Jobs are going away from here now, salaries are down by nearly 30% too to match that of H1B

  11. Now that I’m retired, I’ve taken down my listing on as many job boards as I can find or changed the status to retired. I’m getting multiple calls and emails each week from recruiters with Indian sounding accents or names. I’m assuming they were placing foreign workers in my field until recently. I didn’t get this sort of interest back when I was working and keeping my resume updated. I believe my pay was suppressed for my entire career and all the hiring companies did not try to find an American first. The entire H1-B program is a fraud.

    • Dave, I’ve come to agree with your assessment of the reason for all the calls from these Indian recruiters—“We called an American and they weren’t interested (Yippee! We can qualify another H1-B!)”. They email you a four line job description, and during their phone call, cannot (or /will/ not) tell you anything about the role other than what’s in those four lines. But they insist on knowing “your rate”—usually by about the third or fourth sentence they utter. I’m marking myself as inactive on Dice to ward off the majority of these calls.

      It’s a pity that Dice cannot do something to keep themselves from being a convenient list of American IT people who can be easily called to support this scam.

  12. These denial rates are trivial compared to the 1000s of unneeded that were “welcomed” into our country. The H1-B program needs to be eliminated and the 1,000,000+ H1-Bs with expired visas need to be deported!!!!!!!! They come and take control of I.T. consulting; they depress rates to a 30 year ago level. They admit that companies they do business with, expect cheap, cheap, cheap rates. A 30 year ago rate of $40 has an inflated value of almost $75 today.
    https://www.in2013dollars.com/us/inflation/1913?amount=1

  13. Brian Quinn

    To be honest the amount of offshore and visa work in IT has been extremely damaging to US citizens in the industry. Particularly to Application Developers like me. To coin a popular term used in this country now. ‘Times Up’. Americans need those high paying tech jobs to live and take care of their families.

    • True, plus we, who created and were involved in the evolution of Data Processing, have to deal with age discrimination.

      We have a very corrupt Congress, who capitalize on under-the-table money from Lobbyists, plus bribes from a specific foreign government. Bribery is their way of doing business.

      The US government was patterned after that of Ancient Rome, who fell.
      Ancient Rome, who removed precious metal content from their currency (US, just print more money). Ancient Rome, who over extended their military (US in a 17 year confrontation in the Middle East – started by Bushy Bon-Ami based on 9/11, where there were pre-strike warnings – he was safe in a Florida elementary classroom – had to get outta town). Ancient Rome, whose government corruption is minor compared to that of the homesteading US Congressmen who make insider investments based on sponsored legislation, plus the flow of cash from Lobbyists.

      We, the people, cannot drain the cesspool, because incumbents are constantly voted back into office. Corporations run/ruin this country, not we the people. We, the people, pay all of the taxes, as corporate taxes are priced into the corporate goods and services.

      This is an example of a corporation getting preferential treatment thru Lobbyists.
      Porked Section 1706 of the 1986 Tax Reform Act so IBM could steal Independent Consulting business. Introduced by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Section 1706 added a subsection (d) to Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1986, which removed “safe harbor” exception for independent contractor classification (which at the time avoided payroll taxes) for workers such as engineers, designers, drafters, computer professionals, and “similarly skilled” workers. We technical crooks cannot obtain work on a 1099 basis, because we dishonest individuals might not pay our taxes?????

      Is it time to toss the tea into the harbor??

  14. This is good but the situation is far from good. The DOL needs to do random audits where the companies PROVE they actually interviewed American workers. The USCIS needs to do random audits where the companies PROVE the H1b visa holders are doing the work specified on the LCA.
    The H4 EAD needs to stop – there is NO established labor need for the H4 EAD. We still see efforts on the S386 bill which would award all employment-based green cards to people from India who exceeded renewals of their H1b visas. We need per-country caps on H1b visas. We need absolute limits on renewals of H1b visas because we have all seen them renewed indefinitely. Our government MUST support US first. Call your senators, congressman and the WH and let them know we count and need to be considered first. The sop of companies like Cognizant offering ‘free’ training is NOT enough to allow increases in H1b visas, the ‘donations’ to re-election campaigns by these ‘bodyshops’ is not good enough to allow increases in H1b visas. We expect our representatives to support American workers.

  15. Daniel L

    They did it to themselves. Companies got greedy. They started placing any warm body. The myth that all H1B Visa holders were highly skilled or had Specialized was destroyed by those who got on the job and didn’t know anym

    • Daniel L

      Daniel L
      March 6, 2020
      They did it to themselves. Companies got greedy. They started placing any warm body. The myth that all H1B Visa holders were highly skilled or had Specialized was destroyed by those who got on the job and didn’t know anymore than what is in the software user guide. Also’ struggle with written and verbal communication. Which used to me a must have skill for IT positions. Their education and experience is certified by the placement company. Many just have the equivalent of a HS diploma and some training on the software. If the error isn’t identified by the software they can’t do analysis and need technical assistance. In my NYS HBITS vendors wont consider recent Comp sci grads They only want Visa holders that can be commited to typical 3 year contract

  16. The availability of IT jobs took a big hit following 9-11. For the next 4-5 years, the IT job market was spotty at best. I was laid off in 2004 and had to hit the road for a job and spent the next 10 years working out of town and traveling home when possible. This forced migration cost me all of my savings as I had to maintain two residences. When I finally obtained a position in my home city, it was with a company whose IT departments oozed H1-B visa employees (as well as offshored workers). I can tell you that American-born workers in that kind of environment are at a disadvantage. Anyway, the IT industry used to be a great place in which to be employed. Now, I wouldn’t recommend it.

  17. Michael P.

    If you take a look at the chart in the story, Indian tech firms got hit with the highest denial rates. Also, the CEO of Deloitte is Indian and those firms that have large denial rates also have a huge presence in India, like Accenture and IBM.

    I know from experience that Indians look after their own, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Indian CEOs – those in the US and India – advocate for their people to be used in America. I know there’s an extensive Indian Web community devoted to getting Indians established in the US, from buying cars, to renting apartments, to buying homes, to obtaining jobs for spouses.

    I have nothing against Indians. I have several Indian friends. However, displacing and replacing qualified Americans is just unethical.

  18. Anonymous

    Another feel good propaganda BS, reality is more than ever of this filth keeps coming to this stupid idiotic country that cant seem to get enough of them in here, sad.

  19. American companies want the cheapest labor possible without regard to quality. I have never seen believable data that shows that there is a shortage of IT workers. This country likes to throw away its knowledge and experience to foreign entities to save a few bucks. Who cares about society, upward mobility and national security?

    Within the last year, my company – based in the midwest – has direct-hired five recent four-year college graduates with technical degrees – all highly motivated and competent. Oh yeah … and they are also “regular Americans” – male and female.

    The IT building at my company is about 90% twenty-something Indians. Many of them have little or no knowledge of IT. Some are good, but the percentage of good ones can’t explain why so many Indians overall.

    Many so-called IT jobs are really lower skilled administrative and support. So how can this be explained honestly and accurately on an H-1B application? It would definitely be possible to find Americans to do these jobs.

  20. Charles L Johnson

    I found the perfect engineering job. I met all the qualifications except one – I didn’t speak Chinese. But if I did, I still wouldn’t have taken the job because the pay was HALF the going rate. Obviously this company had an H-1B candidate in the wings and were just going through the motions to get him approved. Most of their employees were Asian.