As part of its anti-immigration reforms, the Trump administration rejected over 25 per cent of all fresh H-1B visa applications in the financial year 2018-19. As per the National Foundation for American Policy, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rejected more H-1B visa applications in FY19 than FY15. Indian tech companies, which rely heavily on the H-1B applications for rendering services to clients based in the US, have been the most hit due to strict visa approval norms.
"The denial rates for H-1B petitions have increased because USCIS has changed the standards for approval without new regulations or Congress passing a new law," Stuart Anderson, executive director of NFAP, told The Economic Times. The USCIS follows October to September financial year. The daily also reported that Cognizant accounted for the maximum number of rejections of fresh applications. Other affected companies include Capgemini, Accenture, Wipro and Infosys.
These IT companies are struggling to send their employees to work onsite in the US, which has affected their business overseas. As per the report, the top six Indian companies got 16 per cent (2,145) H-1B visas for their employees in 2018. In Contrast, Amazon got H-1B visa approval for 2,399 employees. Notably, Indians account for nearly over two-third of total H-1B visa holders in the US but the scenario is changing. As per NFAP, barring Apple, Cummins and Walmart, most companies saw a drop in visa application approval.
The US changed visa norms this year to include 20,000 H-1B visas for US master degree holders in the initial quota of 65,000 visas. Any individual with advanced US degree who is not selected in the initial 65,000 cap lottery, will be eligible for the additional 20,000 visas reserved for individuals with advanced US degrees. It means that the proportion of petitioners with advanced degrees getting H-1B visas will be higher this year.
Till last year, the annual cap approved by US Congress for any given fiscal year was 65,000 visas for regular quota or non-advanced degree quota and additional 20,000 for petitioners with higher qualifications, including US master degree holders.?
The last two years had shown a slight decline in the number of applications. As per a research report by CARE Ratings, visa approvals to Indian companies declined by 49 per cent last year, with only 22,429 H-1B visas granted to the top five IT firms compared to 43,957 visas in 2017. The Trump administration's new policies like 'Buy American, Hire American', students on OPT, H4 EAD removal rule, etc, have also resulted in a significant decline in the number of applications submitted.
Edited by Manoj Sharma