U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has released its annual statistical report, which shows declining rates of approvals across the board from fiscal year 2017 to 2018.

Key figures:

  • H-1B approvals decreased sharply from 95% in fiscal 2017 to 85% in fiscal 2018.
  • Employment-based green card (adjustment of status) approvals fell for the first time in five years, from 94-95% the previous four years to 91% in fiscal 2018.
  • The approval rate for employment authorization documents, or EADs, fell from 95% in 2017 to 90% in 2018. The agency processed 21% fewer EAD requests, even as the number of EAD applications surged by 20%. (A total of 1.78 million EAD applications were completed in 2018 compared with 2.26 million in 2017).
  • The number of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) renewal requests that were processed dropped 28% from 2017 to 2018, as the Trump administration attempted to eliminate the program but was ordered by the courts to process renewal applications while lawsuits progress. The courts did not require DHS to process initial DACA applications and, as a result, the number of those requests that were processed fell 42% from 2017 to 2018.
  • The agency’s Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate, which is responsible for conducting employer audits and investigations, received a 14% increase in referrals for suspected visa fraud and abuse between 2017 and 2018. The unit also screened 11,700 cases against social media platforms.

Approval Rates

Petition Type 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
H-1B 95 % 96 % 94% 93% 85%
Employment-based green cards 95% 94% 94% 94% 91%
Employment Authorization Documents 92% 95% 94% 95% 90%
Naturalization 91% 91% 90% 89% 89%

BAL Analysis: The statistics confirm that since the “Buy American and Hire American” executive order in 2017, approvals of most types of immigration benefits have trended downward.  

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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