H-1B visa application data shows Indians love US more than Chinese, others

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Donald Trump's agenda on immigration has not curbed the Indians' appetite for H-1B visas. Indians continued to be the largest group of H-1B visa aspirants during the first nine months of the current US financial year, with 247,000 applications, the Times of India reported on Monday. According to the report, Indians accounted for 74 per cent of the total applications between October 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017.

During the 2015-16 US financial year, which begins on October 1 and ends on September 30, Indians had sent in 300,000 H-1B applications, the report added.

Citing data released by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the national daily reported that the US received 336,000 H-1B visa applications until June 30, of which 197,000 have been approved. The report added that the USCIS said that many applications were still pending approval.

Citing the USCIS report for 2015-16, the news report said that at 256,000 approved applications, Indians accounted for 74 per cent of the total 345,000 approved applications that year. China, the report added, was at a distant second with nine per cent, or 31,995, approvals. According to USCIS data cited by the report, while the Chinese filed a total of 35,720 applications during 2015-16, their visa applications till June 30, 2017, stood at 36,362, which was their highest ever over the past 10 financial years.

However, the report said that a country of birth-based breakup of the applications approved until June 30, 2017, was not available. 

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialised fields. The H-1B visa is the most sought after by Indian information technology (IT) professionals.

Indians just can't get enough

As reported earlier this month, a USCIS report revealed that from 2007 till June this year, the USCIS received 3.4 million H-1B visa applications, of which people from India accounted for 2.1 million. During the same period, the US issued H-1B visas to 2.6 million people, the USCIS said in its report, which however did not give a country-wise breakdown of approved applications. 

In terms of the number of H-1B applications between 2007 and 2017, India was followed by a distant China with 296,313 H-1B applications, Philippines (85,918), South Korea (77,359), and Canada (68,228). 

Visa 'abuse'

The H-1B visa regime has been at the centre of President Trump's push for immigration reform. A number of US lawmakers have also raised their voices against the 'abuse' of the regime. 

In April this year, Trump signed an executive order that called for a review of the H-1B visa programme, saying that they should never be used to replace American workers and must be given to the most skilled and highest paid applicants. 

Trump had said his administration was going to enforce 'Hire American' rules that were designed to protect jobs and wages of workers in the US.

"Right now, widespread abuse in our immigration system is allowing American workers of all backgrounds to be replaced by workers brought in from other countries to fill the same job for, sometimes, less pay. This will stop," Trump had told an enthusiastic audience in Wisconsin before signing the executive order.

As reported earlier this month, a bipartisan group of influential US lawmakers urged President Donald Trump to stop the abuse of H-1B and L-1 visas by outsourcing firms to replace American workers with cheap foreign labour.

In a letter dated July 27, which was released in August, the group said that a legislation introduced by them would close these loopholes and overhaul these visa programmes to protect American workers and crack down on outsourcing companies, which deprive qualified Americans of high-skill jobs.

IT sector woes

As reported in June this year, the top seven India-based IT companies in the US, including TCS, Wipro, and Infosys, collectively experienced a whopping 37 per cent drop in approved H-1B visa petitions in 2016 as compared to the previous year, according to a report that came amid the Trump administration's crackdown on "visa abuse".

The companies experienced a drop of 5,436 approved petitions (37 per cent) in 2016 as compared to the previous year, said a report by the National Foundation for American Policy — a Washington-based non-profit think-tank.

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