US Lawmakers question rise in denial of H1B visas

H-1B and L1 work visas are popular among Indian professionals.

Washington: Voicing concern over increasing
rates of denial of H-1B and L1 work visas, that are popular
among Indian professionals, top US lawmakers and corporate
bigwigs have questioned the Obama administration over the
issue, warning this would hurt American business interests.

Officials at a Congressional hearing cited last year`s
figure of 26 per cent denial to H1B visa applicants, that was
the highest in recent years, and also pointed out instances
where the visas were denied for flimsy reasons.

Elton Gallegly, chair of the Immigration Policy and
Enforcement Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee,
said figures obtained from US Citizenship and Immigration
Services show a rise in denial in certain categories of visas
between the years of 2008 and 2010.

Gallegly said many in the business community are concerned
that their petitions for foreign workers are being denied and
they are being required to answer excessive requests for
additional evidence, known as RFEs.

"But why did denial and free rates go up? And it very
well could be because of the statutory changes that were
implemented and major decisions that were issued," he said.

Ranking member, Zoe Lofgren said latest figures show there
has been a sizable increase in denial rates for key businesses
visas and in some categories, the denial on RFE rates has
increased by 300 to 500 per cent during the Obama

The Congresswomen said that in many cases the denial was
not justified.

"I had a recent case in which the USCIS denied an
employment-based petition because the adjudicator determined
that the company only had USD 15,000 in annual revenues and,
therefore, couldn`t possibly pay the worker.

"It turned out, however, that the adjudicator had failed
to note that the figures were listed in thousands. It was
actually USD 15 million in revenue," she said.

Lofgren also cited instances when an applicant was denied
visa due to a bureaucratic mistake.

"If you take a look at the H-1B denial rates... in the
year 2004, the denial rate was 11 per cent on H-1Bs. In the
year 2011 it`s 17. When you take a look at the request for
evidence rates, in 2004 it was 4 per cent. In 2011, it was 26
per cent. I mean, that`s a big jump," she said.

"In the L-1B request for evidence rates it was two per
cent in 2004; 63 per cent in 2011. So you`re really ramping up
the evidentiary standards in the inquiry. Certainly we don`t
want fraud, but there is a price to pay as well if it`s a
legitimate effort and it`s delayed unduly," the Congresswoman