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H-1B Visa Applications See First Fall Since 2013, Says US Agency

Applications for the coveted H-1B work visas saw a decline for the first time since 2014, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced amid a move to tighten rules that allow skilled workers, especially from India, to seek employment in the US.

News18.com

Updated:April 18, 2017, 9:56 AM IST
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Representative image.
Representative image.

New Delhi: Applications for the coveted H-1B work visas saw a decline for the first time since 2014, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced amid a move to tighten rules that allow skilled workers, especially from India, to seek employment in the US.

This year the agency has received 199,000 applications, a drop from 2,36,000 applications last year, a CNN report said. The number had been climbing since at least 2013, the report added.

At the start of H-1B season, the USCIS had announced that it would take a "more targeted approach" in visiting the workplaces of H-1B petitioners. And the Justice Department "cautioned" employers opting for the visas to not discriminate against American workers.

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"In an atmosphere of uncertainty, I suppose it is not surprising that fewer petitions were filed this year," Betsy Lawrence, the director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told CNN.

"Some IT firms in India announced they were reducing the number of lower-experienced workers they were filing petitions for, meaning more of those jobs will stay in India rather than being relocated to the US,” she added.

The H1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows American firms to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. It is highly popular among Indian techies and the technology companies depend on the programme to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.

ALSO READ | H-1B Visa: US Agency Says Application Limit of 65,000 Reached

Indian IT giants like TCS, Infosys and Wipro are among the major beneficiaries of H-1B visas.

The annual cap on H-1B visas is 85,000, of which 20,000 are reserved for Master's degree holders.

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| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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