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H1-B Filings Set to Drop in India by 50% After Trump Admin's Tough Scrutiny: Experts

The most sought-after American work visas among highly skilled Indian professionals has an annual numerical limit cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year as mandated by the Congress

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Updated:April 4, 2018, 1:19 PM IST
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H1-B Filings Set to Drop in India by 50% After Trump Admin's Tough Scrutiny: Experts
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Bengaluru: After the unprecedented scrutiny introduced by Trump administration for H-1B visas, immigration experts believe that there could be a sharp decline in the number of H-1B petitions filed by Indian IT services companies.

The USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) opened its doors to the H-1B visa applications on Monday for the season 2018-19.

According to a report in The Times of India, Scott FitzGerald, partner in US immigration firm Fragomen Worldwide, said the general consensus seems to be that filings of H-1B petitions by Indian IT services companies would be down this year, “possibly by as much as 50% compared to the recent years.”

The Trump administration has been gradually increasing the stringency with which it scrutinizes work visa applications. In February, it issued a policy memorandum that allowed its officers to demand more detailed documentation from applicants to determine they have specific assignments in a specialty occupation for the H-1B beneficiary, and for the entire time requested on the petition.

H-1B visa rejection rates, including for renewals, have risen markedly. Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration law practice at Cornell Law School, said the number of H-1B petitions that received requests for additional evidence last year increased more than 40% over the previous year. “That trend is likely to continue this year,” he said.

FitzGerald said petitions will be rejected if USCIS deems it to be incomplete if they find missing signatures, missing or incorrect filing fee checks, missing or incorrectly checked boxes. He said these have increased the administrative work for the IT firms and lawyers to audit the checklist for all H-1B filings.

This and the increase in requests for evidence have resulted in higher legal fees, which too discourages Indian companies from filing too many petitions.

“One should expect the same sort of H-1B carnage like last year. No matter how well one responds to the request for evidence or argues the case before the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), the outcome could still be a preordained denial – as if Trump’s wall is already up,” said Cyrus Mehta, managing attorney and founder of New York-based law firm Cyrus D Mehta & Partners.

Indian IT companies have been the biggest users of the H-1B visa for many years. They use it to send employees in India to the US to service clients there. Trump, however, believes companies do not do enough to find local talent to do the same job, and prefer Indian employees because they are cheaper.

The most sought-after American work visas among highly skilled Indian professionals has an annual numerical limit cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year as mandated by the Congress.
| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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