The Massive Undercurrent of Changes in Immigration

Last Updated on June 30, 2023


The approach to immigration reform the Trump administration took in 2017 hasn’t created as much change as expected. Talk of walls and travel bans has made a difference in American immigration, but those conversations have not done as much as the under-the-radar changes in immigration enforcement.

Those who have been following employment-related immigration issues throughout 2017 are well aware of the small shifts that have changed the entire landscape: 85,000 requests for evidence (RFEs) for H-1B visa applications were issued within the first eight months of the year, almost a 45 percent increase over the same time period in 2016.

All eyes on the H-1B visa

changes in immigration - all eyes on the H-1B visa

The H-1B visa has taken the brunt of this silent slowing down of immigration, facing higher scrutiny all around.

As the New York Times reports, 82 percent of non-cap H-1B applications were approved in November 2017, which sounds high but is actually a 10 percent drop from the same time the previous year.

Taking Hire American very seriously

changes in immigration - taking Hire American very seriously

Buy American, Hire American was an executive order issued in early 2017 and has impacted employment-based immigration almost clear across the board. Now, not only are H-1B visa applicants facing a more difficult process, but the Trump administration is considering the removal of H-4 work permits, the dependent program that allows spouses of H-1B visa holders to work.

The F-1 visa program allowing foreign students to temporarily work in the U.S. after graduation is being called into question. Employment based green card applicants are now largely required to have in-person interviews, which wasn’t previously a requirement, as well.

The subtle changes in immigration that have gone into effect without the need for approval from Congress made 2017 a quietly drastic year in terms of slowing the number of immigrants staying in the U.S.

Tightening the reins on regulations and enforcing visa programs with an unprecedented level of scrutiny are all part of a larger mission: to protect American jobs.

The skills gap is real

changes in immigration - the skills gap is real

The issue that so many companies are facing, however, is that the labor shortage in the U.S. is making it increasingly difficult to fill necessary jobs. According to our 2017 Immigration Trends Report, 77 percent of companies said that filling the skills gap at their organizations was very important.

When talking about tech, the numbers are even higher: 83 percent of tech businesses reported a loss in revenue, slower to-market times, and employee burnout thanks to the immense talent shortage in tech.

“Finding data scientists is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in recruiting,” Greg Fullerton, vice president of human capital at a technology services company, told us.

Read more about the trends in immigration businesses faced in 2017 and stay tuned for our 2018 trends report with the latest changes in immigration, coming soon.