Visa rejection rate for skilled workers skyrockets, hurting businesses

When a worker is finally approved, Shotwell added, there often seems to be no clear reason why one employee succeeded in the process where another failed. “Maybe a company has a group of employees coming over who are on paper all the same, and half are approved, and half are denied,” she said.

This inconsistency has led to several well-publicized embarrassments for USCIS. Last year, for example, ABC News reported the story of Amit Aharoni, an Israeli who founded a company in the U.S. after attending Stanford University. Aharoni employed nine workers but was subsequently denied a visa to stay in the country himself; he received his visa only after subsequent media coverage.

Shah Peerally, an immigration lawyer whose clients are primarily Indian and Pakistani, said his clients are occasionally left stranded while vacationing in those countries because the government, for arbitrary reasons, sometimes refuses to stamp their visas and approve their return to the U.S..

“We don’t have any mode to fight this, and by the time we fight this, the projects here get finished and both the company and the candidate get finished,” Peerally said.

The Daily Caller has heard similar stories about other employees’ struggles with their visas, but the sources asked that TheDC not publish them for fear that they would be too easily identifiable.

“Companies themselves, I think, are hesitant to publicly criticize an agency that ultimately is responsible for either permitting or denying employees to be allowed in the country,” Anderson explained.

“We’re more than happy to talk privately about our problems with government officials; we welcome those opportunities because we hope that that leads to these problems being addressed in some way,” said one source who requested anonymity. “We’re very sensitive to speaking openly and publicly about it because it would seem to suggest that we’re going outside the realm of government.”

Additionally, the source noted, companies “don’t want to be singled out” by their competitors.

Both USCIS and the State Department declined to address the matter directly, but they responded to concerns about Indian visa applicants in statements to TheDC.

“The Department of State is committed to building on our broad partnership between the United States and India by facilitating visas to qualified applicants,” said a State Department official. “India is the single largest beneficiary of H-1B and L-1 visas, by a wide margin. In fiscal year 2011, U.S. embassies and consulates in India issued more than 67,000 H-1B visas and more than 25,000 L-1 visas.”

“Last year, our embassies and consulates in India adjudicated more H-1B applications from Indian applicants than at other time in history,” the official said. “Over the course of the past four fiscal years, consular officers in India issued more than 47 percent of all H-1B visas and more than 43 percent of all L-1 visas worldwide.”

“USCIS adjudicates H-1 and L1-B cases based on the facts presented in the petition and the law,” said Bill Wright, a USCIS spokesperson. “We have actively engaged with the public on the L1-B classification, including most recently at a forum at the end of January hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.”