CALL US: +44 (0)20 8004 3492

H-1B Visa Denials Increase By 3.5% in 2023

By Nita Nicole Upadhye

Table of Contents

H-1B Visa Denials Increase By 3.5% in 2023

The number of denials for H-1B visas, the immigration program that allows US companies to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations, increased by 3.5% in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, according to data released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The H1B visa program grants temporary authorization for US employers to hire foreign workers with “theoretical or practical knowledge of a specific specialty.” These specialties typically include fields like computer science, engineering, mathematics, and architecture.

The H1B program is capped at 85,000 visas per year, with an additional 20,000 reserved for applicants with master’s degrees or higher from US universities.

The USCIS data shows that while the overall number of H1B applications remained relatively steady, the denial rate has been on the rise, although the USCIS data on H1B denials is for the first half of 2023 only. As such, it is possible that the denial rate could change in the second half of the year.

This can be attributed to several factors. The Trump administration implemented a number of policies aimed at tightening H1B regulations, and these policies appear to be continuing to have an impact. USCIS is also reportedly scrutinising applications more closely, looking for evidence that employers are making a good faith effort to recruit American workers before hiring foreign ones.

Finally, the demand for H1B visas also continues to outpace supply, leading to a highly competitive application process. This means that even qualified applicants who are successful in the lottery selection may be denied if their petitions are not well-prepared or if they are competing against candidates with stronger qualifications.


Impact on Employers

Any increase in H1B denials is likely to impact employers with recruitment dependent on skilled foreign workers, such as in the tech industry. However, the Biden administration has indicated that it may prioritise certain types of H1B applications, such as those in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). This could make it more difficult for companies to obtain visas for workers in other specialty occupations.

While the H1B denial rates remain lower than under the Trump administration, US companies that rely on H1B workers should be prepared for a more challenging application process. In particular, the figures show that many mid-sized employers saw their denial rates increase, unlike the top employers of H-1B visa holders who did not experience a rise in denial rates in FY 2023.

On a broader scale, the increase in H1B denials may contribute to talent shortages in sectors such as tech, ultimately impacting US innovation, competitiveness and economic growth.


NNU Immigration can help

NNU Immigration are specialist US immigration attorneys. We work with employers and individuals seeking to secure a visa to work in the USA, including the H-1B visa route. We can advise on all aspects of the eligibility requirements and can guide applicants through the petitioning process, including advice on the H-1B filing deadline and meeting the strict timescales.

If you have a question about the H-1B visa, speak to our experts.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.


Founder & Principal Attorney Nita Nicole Upadhye is a recognized leader in the field of US business immigration law, (The Legal 500, Who's Who Legal and AILA) and an experienced and trusted advisor to large multinational corporates through to SMEs. She provides strategic immigration advice and specialist application support to corporations and professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, artists, actors and athletes from across the globe to meet their US-bound talent mobility needs.

Nita is an active public speaker, thought leader, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals.

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.​

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.

Share on social

For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.

For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.