President Donald Trump and his administration have been relentless in their plan to greatly reduce immigration. Since passing the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, however, the administration has taken more overt steps to limit legal immigration.
A new National Foundation for American Policy analysis of U.S. Customs and Immigration Services data shows a dramatic increase in denials for H-1B visa petitions. Between FY 2015 and FY 2019, initial employment petitions quadrupled, with rates jumping from 6% to 24%. Similarly, the rate for continued employment H-1B visas increased from 3% in 2015 to 14% in 2019.
Some United States companies with employees in India are also finding it nearly impossible to transfer employees to the U.S. with L-1 visas, or visas that allow for temporary transferring of foreign workers. One executive said that refusal rates at Indian consular posts are between 80% and 90%, making it harder to conduct business as usual without a full staff and with ever increasing legal costs.
All of these factors work together to halt legal immigration for foreign workers — and ultimately hurt the U.S. economy. Businesses tend to apply for H-1B visas under the assumption that their intended employees will qualify. But as costs grow with additional requests for evidence — which are issued for 60% of cases and can cost thousands of dollars in legal fees — businesses are more likely to relocate out of the United States to more easily obtain high-skilled workers.
Setting up barriers and blockades to immigration only hurts the U.S. economy, despite what the Trump administration may believe. More and more foreign workers will continue taking their skills to other countries, like Canada, further reducing the pool of potential talent available to U.S. employers.