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In a recent New York Times article, David Bier revealed new analysis from the Cato Institute demonstrating that the United States has been rejecting more legal immigrants than ever before.

Data from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) demonstrates that, under the current administration, immigration application denial rates have jumped significantly to an increased 37% since Fiscal Year 2016. These denials included all types of immigration benefits, including, but not limited to, travel documents, work permits, green cards, and worker petitions. The data excluded citizenship applications, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and Temporary Protective Status programs.

To better illustrate the comparison in Fiscal Year 2015, the overall denial rate was 7.9%. So far in Fiscal Year 2018, the denial rate is already at 11.3%. In raw numbers, Fiscal Year 2015 saw 442,725 denials, and Fiscal Year 2018 is projected to see 620,311 denials.

The most dramatic denial increase was for advance parole. Advance parole gives immigrants on temporary statuses advanced permission to reenter the United States after a temporary departure abroad. The denial rate for advance parole increased from 6.9% in Fiscal Year 2015 to 18.1% in Fiscal Year 2018.

Additionally, the denial rate for I-129 nonimmigrant worker petitions increased from 17.7% to 22.6% from Fiscal Year 2015 to Fiscal Year 2018. The denial rate for I-485 employment-based adjustment of status (AOS) to permanent residence (i.e. green card) increased from 5.5% to 7.9% from Fiscal Year 2015 to Fiscal Year 2018.

Please see below a comparison chart:

These increased denial rates come in the context of the current administration’s executive orders that have been interpreted as a push against legal immigrants.

The increased rate of denials for legal immigration cases requires more care and diligence than ever before when applications are filed with USCIS. In terms of best practice in the environment of heightened denial rates, applications should be thoroughly documented, clearly explained, and filed with as much supporting evidence as possible. Alternative immigration options may also need to be assessed.

While we only have projections for the final number of denials for Fiscal Year 2018, it is clear that the United States has already denied an historic number of legal immigration cases and only time will tell how high the denial rate will end up being.

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