3 Takeaways From Updated USCIS RFE Rates

Last Updated on March 9, 2023

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated and released its request for evidence (RFE) dataset.

The additional data provides more transparency into the organization’s scrutiny of employment-based visas. The data cited is organized by fiscal year (FY). The government’s 2019 fiscal year is Oct. 1, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2019.

After consulting with our affiliated law firm, Global Immigration Associates (GIA), we’ve identified three takeaways from this latest data release.

RFE Rates Remain High

In accordance with President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, USCIS continues to heavily scrutinize H-1B visa petitions. Currently, the FY 2019 RFE percentage of completed H-1B visa petitions is 48%. As a comparison, the RFE percentage in FY 2015 was 22.3%.

“It’s not surprising to see RFE rates continue to rise,” says Sara E. Herbek, Managing Partner at GIA. “This recent trend further illustrates the level of increased scrutiny out of USCIS.”

In the chart below, it’s clear that RFE rates substantially increased starting in FY 2018:

Approval Percentage Declines

Another metric employers closely monitor is the approval percentage, which continues to decline. For FY 2015, the approval percentage was 95.7%. Now, in FY 2019, the approval percentage is 79.4%.

Approval Percentage of Petitions with RFE Also Declines

This final statistic is the approval percentage of H-1B visa petitions with an RFE. This refers to H-1B visa petitions that received an RFE and then were ultimately approved by USCIS.

In FY 2015, the approval percentage of petitions with an RFE was 83.2%. This number has declined in subsequent fiscal years, but it wasn’t until FY 2018 the number dropped sharply. As of FY 2019, the approval percentage of petitions with an RFE is now 60.5%.

The latest data release indicates that USCIS will continue to heavily scrutinize H-1B visa petitions and this scrutiny is applied to every company.

For more information, please reach out to your Envoy-affiliated attorney or appropriate legal counsel.

Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Sara Herbek, who is the Managing Partner at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (www.giafirm.com), Envoy’s affiliated law firm.