United States government to modify the selection process of H-1B visa
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the selection process for the H-1B visa will be modified and the current lottery process will be changed. According to the modification, the selection process will protect the economic interest of the country and prioritize wages and ensure that the highly skilled foreign workers are benefited from the program.
This move will also incentivize the employers to offer higher salaries and petition for the higher-skilled positions. According to USCIS Deputy Director for Policy, Joseph Edlow, the H-1B temporary visa program has been exploited by employers to fill the entry-level positions to reduce overall costs.
Proposed changes about ending work authorization for spouses of H-1B visa holders sent to White House
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday sent the proposed changes with regard to ending work authorization for spouses of the holders of H-1B visas to the White House office of management for budget. The move is likely to impact over 90, 000 spouses of H-1B visa holders. Out of the 90, 000 spouses, an overwhelming number are Indians.
With the proposed changes being sent to the White House, the regulation would be reviewed before taking a final call. The entire process could take anything between weeks to several months. It needs to be mentioned here that once the final call is taken by the White House, a formal regulation could be issued, and the Department of Homeland Security can inform a federal court.
It is noteworthy to mention here that there was strong resistance against the proposed move by a group of US lawmakers and Silicon Valley companies. They were of the view that the move was anti-women and prevented talented spouses of H-1B visa holders from working in the country.
As per the data released by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), there are a total of 4, 19,637 foreign nationals are working in the country on H-1B visa as of 5 October, 2018. Out of the said number, as many as 3, 09,986 are Indians.
Union Minister promises to take up matter regarding H-1B visa with Trump administration
Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu has expressed disappointment over the US government’s proposal to tighten H-1B visa norms. He added that the matter would be taken up with the Trump administration as some of the decisions were ‘really disappointing’. Prabhu stated that the visas issued to the technology service providers had contributed significantly to the growth of the US economy. He made it clear that if the spouses of the Indian IT professionals were competent, it will only help in adding value to the US economy. The statement made by the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry bears significance as it comes at a time when the Trump administration is planning to end providing work permits to the spouses of H-1B visa holders.
Decline in number of H1B applicants
The number of people applying for H 1B visas has seen a decline when compared to the previous year. This is a drop that has been seen for the second time.
According to reports, only 1.90 lakh applications were received for the 2018 to 2019 season as compared to the previous season, where there were at least 2 lakh applicants. Overall, there has been a drop in applicants by around 4.5%. In numbers, this figure stands at 8,902 number of applicants. On the other hand, it has also been seen that a good number of Indian technology firms have began hiring people in the US.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been using a lottery system since 2013 -14 because the number of applicants have been more than the predetermined yearly quota. There was an unprecedented higher number of applications in the 2016-17 year, when the number reached to 2.4 lakh. However, during the current year, there has been a drop in this figure by around 20%.
According to data obtained from a well-known immigration firm, there was a 38% chance of selection in the lottery system for ‘general cap fillings’.
Delays In Green Cards Is Affecting Many Indian H-1B Professionals
High skilled workers who are based in India now have to wait at least from 9 to 11 years on an average to get their green cards. Ever since the scrutiny of H-1B visa applications has been increased, the aim to settle in the U.S. is becoming a dream.
Since Indians are the major beneficiaries of H-1B visa program, they are the ones that are largely affected, says MPI (Migration Policy Institute). The green cards that are on the pending list have put a lot of pressure on the uncapped visas.
In the financial year 2016, totally 3,45,262 H-1B visa applications were approved, which was reported to be the highest so far. On the other hand, the demand for uncapped visa categories has drastically grown due to the delays many employers are facing in their fields.
EB-5 visa gains popularity among Indians
With changes being made to H-1B visa, the EB-5 visa is fast gaining popularity among Indian techies. The EB-5 visa is basically an entrepreneurial visa which provides individuals who avail it a sure shot at the US Green card. The visa comes with an initial investment of 5,00,000 US dollars as well as the promise to create ten full time jobs in the country. It was introduced in 1990 to enable high net worth individuals to obtain a US visa for themselves and their family.
Andrew Graves, the director of business development, US Immigration Fund states that with since the changes are being made to H-1B visa, many holders of H-1B visa are opting for EB-5 route. He added that currently China makes up about 80 percent of the overall EB-5 market. India stands fifth in the list which Graves attributed to the lack of interest given the fact that H-1B visa gets more focused upon. Graves however stated that the interest was growing since the time US Immigration fund was set up in the country. It needs to be mentioned that US Immigration Fund partnered with education group ‘The Chopras Group’ last year with the aim of raising 125 million dollars by the end of 2018.
No fundamental change in H-1B visa programme, says US diplomat
Addressing the apprehensions among the Indians on the amendments to H1-B Visa programme, a senior US diplomat stated that there is no fundamental change in the programme and the VISA processing for H-1B will remain unchanged in the US consulate in Mumbai.
With the Trump government announcing a new policy making the H-1B visa processing tougher, many Indians are worried about the policy’s impact on India. To clear the confusion the US diplomat told that the policy change is not specific to India and it broadly affects all the countries. The new policy mandates the employer to prove that the H-1B employee has specific and non-qualifying speculative assignments in specialty occupation.
Kenneth Juster made announcement pertaining to H-1B Visa and deportation
Kenneth Juster, the newly appointed American envoy has recently made an announcement to reassure the H-1B Visa holders with the rising fear of deportation. Following the news of changes to H-1B Visa policies, many immigrants have expressed their concerns over self-deportation. The bill which proposed changes to the H-1B Visa policy can result in a mass deportation of over 7 lakh Indian H-1B Visa holders, however, Kenneth Juster’s announcement reassured the US Government’s initiative to reform immigration laws which are not considering a proposal to deport thousands of skilled immigrants. Trump’s administration has been working towards changing few of the H-1B Visa policies which will target visa extension rules, eligibility criteria, etc., however, considering the positive impact of skilled workers to the US economy, the Government is far from passing a law which will result in a mass deportation.
Indian H-1B Visa holders are not worried about changes to visa policies yet
Though the news about Trump’s administration and proposed changes to the H-1B Visa policies have been continuously reported by the Indian media companies, many Indians with H-1B Visa are not finding it to be an issue of concern yet. Many H-1B Visa holders in the US have not expressed major concerns over the H.R 170 bill as the media companies in the US are not talking about deportation particularly, instead, the news about immigration reforms to ensure compliance of existing H-1B Visa is being published. Many Indian media companies are reporting about the deportation of thousands of H-1B Visa holders, however, most Indians under the H-1B Visa in the US are earning over the annual salary threshold of $100,000.
H1B Visa application to be tougher by 2018
The year of 2017 has been eventful for both India and the US in terms of changes to the Passport and Visa application process. Under Trump’s administration, the US has witnessed many changes to various policies. 2018 could be the New Year where the US Government will make changes to the H1B Visa policies. If the new rules are implemented, many Indian IT firms and Indians with H1B Visa will have to reconsider their options. Even the H4 Visa holder may lose their work permit authorization. Though the changes are not implemented yet, the speculations indicate tougher rules for all H1B Visa petition in the coming year.