H-1B Denials Have Big Tech Looking to Canada

An October 2019 NFAP (National Foundation for American Policy) Policy Brief analyzed H-1B data for the first three quarters of FY 2019.

H-1B denial rates were 24% through the third quarter of FY 2019 for “initial” employment petitions. The 24% figure is actually an improvement. Through the first two quarters of FY 2019, denial rates hit 33% for new H-1B petitions.

Companies that provide professional or IT services to other US companies are getting hit particularly hard. “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% through the first three quarters of FY 2019. Most of these companies had denial rates between 2% and 7% as recently as FY 2015.”

Research by Britta Glennon, an assistant professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, found that restrictive H-1B policies could be exporting more jobs and businesses to countries like Canada. Furthermore, an Envoy Immigration Trends Report 2019 found that companies are targeting Canada as a future talent hub based, in part, on its immigration policies. In 2017, Toronto created more tech jobs than the Bay Area, Seattle and Washington D.C. combined.

Google is preparing to more than double the size of its Canadian engineering headquarters in Kitchener, Amazon built a one-million square foot warehouse in Ottawa, and Microsoft recently announced a new Canadian Headquarters in Downtown Toronto.

USCIS is also denying “continuing” employment H-1B petitions at a rate of 12%– a historical high. The NFAP report concluded that the record numbers are likely due, in part, to a USCIS memo on “Rescission of Guidance Regarding Deference to Prior Determinations of Eligibility in the Adjudication of Petitions for Extension of Nonimmigrant Status.” The memo rescinded the previous policy of requiring officers to defer to prior determinations in petitions for extension of nonimmigrant status.

Data regarding H-1B denials and approvals can be found at USCIS’ H-1B Employer Data Hub.