A senior US official today sought to allay India’s concerns on the H-1B visa programme, which is being “reviewed” by the Trump administration, saying there are no “restrictions” in place. The official said around 70 per cent of the visas issued under the H-1B category over the past nine months have gone to Indians and that a record 1.2 million visas of Indians were adjudicated by the US last year. The year-over-year increase in terms of issuance of H-1B visas and L1 visas (work permit) to Indians is six per cent each, the official said. “The President (Donald Trump) spoke about review. There are no restrictions but it (H-1B) is under review,” he said, adding the issue was not on the agenda for the upcoming Indo- US bilateral dialogue on consular relations, but it may come up in the course of the talks.
The issue of the repealing of the Deferred Action for Children Arrival (DACA) programme, which has hit more than 7,000 Indian-Americans, may also figure in the talks scheduled to be held on September 27 in Washington. Trump had signed an executive order in April for tightening the rules of the H-1B visa programme to stop “visa abuses”. The DACA amnesty programme granted work permits to immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as children. The official also said the US processed around 88,000 student visa applications last year, which is an increase of 15 per cent over 2015. Currently, there are around 1.6 lakh Indian students in the US, which is the second highest number of international students, after China.
Indian citizens made up six per cent of worldwide immigrant visa applicants, making them the fifth largest group of new immigrants after those from China, Philippines, Dominican Republic and Mexico. The H-1B 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. Indian technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year for their US operations.