Indian visa applicants hit with most denials, report says

Indian visa applicants hit with most denials, report says

The Donald Trump administration’s crackdown on work visas is hitting Indians disproportionately hard. Now, a report from the National Foundation for American Policy has found that in 2017, Indian applicants for H-1B visas were hit by more denials and demands for proof of eligibility to work than applicants from other nations.

Between July and September 2017, the US denied H-1B visas to 23.6% of Indian applicants, up from 16.6% in the three preceding months, according to the latest data released by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to public policy research.

The H-1B visa is normally given to highly skilled workers is specialized jobs and is usually obtained by employers however; it has now become an immigration debate in the Trump era, claiming that they are taking jobs away from Americans.

Many Silicon Valley technology companies have lobbied for an expansion of the annual 85,000 cap on new visas, arguing that companies need to be able to bring in the world’s top talent, according to the Mercury News. After obtaining an H-1B visa, one can apply for a green card but due to extensive backlog they tend to extend their visas instead.

Stellar Software Network, a staffing and outsourcing company has filed a lawsuit against the federal government alleging that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration illegally denied Kartik Krishnamurthy, an Indian man, his H-1B visa.

According to a Mercury News report, the denial comes in wake of the U.S. crackdown on the H-1B visa and called the denial of Krishnamurthy’s visa “arbitrary and capricious.”  Krishnamurthy worked at Stellar on the H-1B visa for about seven years until the end of May, according to the lawsuit.

The issue started in August 2017 when a request for Krishnamurthy’s visa extension was put in and was denied due to the H-1B crackdown that arose from President Donald Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order.

Also, applications for Indian workers were more frequently subjected to the “requests for evidence,” according to the report by the National Foundation for American Policy.

Workers from India, comprising by far the largest number of H-1B workers in the U.S., have been impacted adversely by the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order signed in April 2017 by President Donald Trump.

The NFAP study noted that in the fourth quarter of 2017 alone as many as 14,932 applicants from India were denied visas,out of a total of 20,514 applicants. The report, published in July, said that H-1B denials and Requests for Evidence (RFEs) increased significantly in the fourth quarter and that trends most likely will continue in 2018. The report is based on data obtained from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

“The increase in denials and RFEs of even the most highly-skilled applicants seeking permission to work in America indicates the Trump administration is interested in less immigration, not ‘merit-based’ immigration,” the report said.

Between 2001 and 2015, an estimated 1.8 million H-1B visas were reportedly awarded to skilled foreign workers. Half went to Indians followed by workers from China. China, however, accounted for 9.4 percent of total H-1B visa applications in the 2017 fiscal year compared to India’s 76 percent, according to a TechCrunch.com report.

The NFAP report said that the Trump administration has implemented no policies to facilitate the hiring of high-skilled foreign nationals. “Instead, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has enacted a series of policies to make it more difficult for even the most highly-educated scientists and engineers to work in the United States.”

The climate of increasing restrictions grew forH-1B visa holders and their spouses, who had been allowed by the Obama administration to work in the U.S. legally. India’s major IT outsourcing companies started changing their business models in the U.S. by relying less on H1-B visa holders and building up their domestic workforces in the United States.

That changed business model partly explains why five of the seven top Indian-based companies saw declines in FY 2017 from FY 2016, including Infosys, Wipro and HCL America.

Only TCS, with an increase of 13 percent, and Tech Mahindra, which increased by 42 percent, had more H-1B petitions for initial employment approved in FY 2017 than the previous fiscal year, an earlier NFAP report said.

The report published in April noted that the top seven Indian-based companies received only 8,468 approved H-1B petitions for initial employment in FY 2017, a decline of 43 percent for these companies since FY 2015.

An earlier NFAP report said, “H-1B temporary visas are important as they are typically the only practical way a high-skilled foreign national working abroad or an international student educated in the United States can work long-term in America.”

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