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Trump before signing the Buy American, Hire American executive order. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Immigration officials required more information from high-skilled H-1B visa applicants last year, and denied 22% in the last quarter — up 41% from the previous quarter, according to a new study by the National Foundation for American Policy.

The big picture: The number of denials and "requests for evidence" (RFE) began to climb following President Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" executive order signed in April of last year. While employers of H-1B workers often talk anecdotally about how much harder it's been to get their applications approved, this new data highlights a potential impact of the administration's crackdown.

By the numbers:

  • There was a 41% increase in denials between the 3rd and 4th quarter — from 15.9% in Q3 to 22.4% Q4.
  • In Q3 2017, 23% of completed cases required "requests for evidence" (RFE). That number jumped to 69% in the Q4.
  • There were almost as many RFEs in the 4th quarter as in all three other quarters combined.
  • The last quarter under the Obama administration (Q1 2017) only had RFE for 17% of cases, compared to the 69% at the end of Trump's first fiscal year.
  • Indian H-1B applicants saw even stricter scrutiny in the last quarter, with 72% of their applications requiring additional evidence in Q4, compared to 61% of other nationalities.

Key quote: "This increase is significant and is clearly attributable to [Buy American Hire American] and the Administration’s desire to restrict legal immigration," Mark Roberts, CEO of TechServe Alliance, which works to outsource needed H-1B workers to American companies, told Axios.

  • He said that in the IT and engineering sector, he's seen an almost 100% RFE rate and an increased denial rate where it was previously near zero.

The other side: Proponents of cutting back legal immigration argue that these visas take high-paying jobs from American workers and often accuse companies of using H-1B visas to pay workers less. They view the actions of the Trump administration simply as better law enforcement.

Go deeper: How Trump is making it harder to get a visa

Go deeper

Updated 43 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Dave Lawler, author of World
57 mins ago - World

Biden holds first phone call with Putin, raises Navalny arrest

Putin takes a call in 2017. Photo: Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty

President Biden on Tuesday held his first call since taking office with Vladimir Putin, pressing the Russian president on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies, AP reports.

The state of play: Biden also planned to raise arms control, bounties allegedly placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who said the call took place while she was delivering a press briefing. Psaki added that a full readout will be provided later Tuesday.

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.

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