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H-1B visas: Over 1.7 lakh techies miss US gold rush

Mail Today Bureau     April 14, 2016

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Wednesday that it has completed the computerised draw of lots, or lottery, for granting 65,000 H-1B visas after receiving 2,36,000 petitions which is over three times the official cap for the coveted work visa sought by Indian IT professionals for 2017.

According to a press statement on the USCIS website, the computerised draw of lots that would determine the successful applicants has been completed.

The computerised draw of lots would determine the successful applicants for the 65,000 Congressional mandated H-1B visas and another 20,000 for those foreign students who completed their higher studies from a US academic institute in subjects if science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the statement said.


The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had announced on Monday that it received over 2,36,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1 for the Financial Year 2017, in just five days of opening up the process.

On April 9, the USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the general-category cap and the cap under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the master's cap.

The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit, the statement explained.

The USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing, it said. As announced on March 16 this year, the USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 16.

It would continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.

The number of petitions received is more than thrice the Congressionally-mandated cap in the general category for the work visas for highly-skilled workers in the general category.

USCIS also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions by those foreign students who completed their higher studies from a US academic institute in subjects if science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). H-1B visa, popular among Indian techies, is used by American companies to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialised knowledge in fields such as science, engineering and computer programming.

A senior Nasscom executive told Mail Today that "the details would take some time to emerge but Indian companies such s TCS, Infosys and Wipro are expected to get a lion's share of the visas. Canada and the Phillipines are the closest competitors."

India has been the largest applicant and also the biggest recipient of H1-B visas for computer workers and the trend will continue.

Indian companies in fact account for around 80 per cent of the H1-B visas for techies.However, the US administration has been imposing restrictions on the number of these visas and also increased hiked the application fee. Nasscom, estimates local IT firms would incur an extra $400 million a year in costs due to the spike in visa fees.

India had in March this year filed a complaint against the United States over non-immigrant temporary working visas at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

India has disputed measures imposing increased fees on certain categories of temporary work visas for the United States and limits on their numbers.

India's stand is that these measures appear inconsistent with commitments that the United States has made by treating persons from India working in sectors such as computer services in the United States less favourably than US persons.'

In December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also raised the visa fee issue with Obama when the latter telephoned him to thank him for his leadership role on achieving the historic agreement on climate change in Paris on December 12. However, since it is politically sensitive, the Obama administration went ahead with the move.

With the US now going into election mode the rhetoric against Indian workers and ``offshoring'' of jobs has picked up further momentum.

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has proposed raising the minimum wage for H-1B visa holders comprising mainly Indian technology professionals as he released his policy of putting American workers first.

Such a move, Trump argued, would force companies to give IT jobs to unemployed Americans and not cheaper workers from overseas, including India.

(In association with Mail Today Bureau)

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