The Cato Institute found that U.S. consulates do not approve most employer-sponsored immigrant visas, noting how 61% of applicants are denied. This percentage is higher than the denial rate for workers in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) applying for green cards. The most common reason for these denials is a problem with the job offer. Several denials even reversed petition and labor certifications approved by the Department of Labor (DOL) and DHS. Again, the high denial rate contrasts with the significantly lower denial rate for workers who apply for green cards while living in the United States.
He went on to explain how the high denial rate affects U.S. immigration. For example, immigrants end up applying for temporary visas because these are easier to acquire, which has limited availability for other programs. As a result, some immigrants may attempt to enter the U.S. illegally rather than face repeated denials in the legal immigration process.
Over 160,000 employer-sponsored immigrants changed their status to permanent residents of the United States in 2021. Conversely, slightly over 15,000 employ-sponsored immigrants abroad were approved for permanent residence status. The State Department does not give a reason for these differences. However, Bier stated that a former consular officer believed the denials were due to the State Department’s negative attitude toward the DHS and DOL.
An attorney who used to work at the State Department explained how, despite a significant difference between the denial rates, the denials are a small part of the work done by the U.S. embassy and consulates. She said they handle family-based cases, Special Immigrant Visas, and Diversity Immigrant Visas. Conversely, the attorney acknowledges that the high denial rate is a concern needing review and that the immigration process has room for improvement.
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