Big relief to Indian techies as US says no change in H-1B visa extension policy – All details of decision here

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Bengaluru | Published: January 10, 2018 6:25:40 AM

In a big relief to Indian IT professionals working in the United States, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has clarified that there is no proposal to deny extension to H-1B visa holders and that the earlier policy remains in force.

h1b visa extension, donald trump visa extension, indian techies problem after h1bThis clarification brings relief to an estimated over 400,000 Indian IT professionals who continue to live in the US with such visas beyond the stipulated six years, as their green card status is pending. (Reuters)

In a big relief to Indian IT professionals working in the United States, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has clarified that there is no proposal to deny extension to H-1B visa holders and that the earlier policy remains in force. This clarification brings relief to an estimated over 400,000 Indian IT professionals who continue to live in the US with such visas beyond the stipulated six years, as their green card status is pending. Earlier, there were reports that the Trump administration was planning to change the rules, which would have resulted in self-deportation of H-1B visa holders whose green card status was pending after the six-year extension. According to the USCIS, it was not considering “a regulatory change that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing interpretation of certain language in Section 104C of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) statute that states that USCIS may grant the extensions”. The statement added, “Even if it were, such a change would not likely result in these H-1B visa holders having to leave the United States because employers could request extensions in one-year increments under section 106(a)-(b) of AC21 instead.”

The clarification provided by the USCIS would also give a boost to the Indian IT industry as the US is its largest market, accounting for around 60% of annual revenues. Indian IT companies are heavily dependent on H-1B visas to execute their projects in the US. According to Statista, Indians accounted for 82% of the H-1B visas granted in 2016. The presence of large Indian IT companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Wipro is significant in the US, though they have recently announced they would increase their local hiring. For example, Infosys has around 20,000 people working in the US with over 14,000 of them on H-1B visas.

Wipro had 14,000 people in the US in FY17 but 50% of these employees are American citizens. Similarly, TCS has claimed that it has been recognised as top employer in US in 2016 but did not share any numbers. However, in the recent past, there has been a drop in the number of H-1B visas procured by Indian IT companies. According to National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), a US-based think tank, the top six India-based companies received only 9,356 new H-1B petitions for initial employment in FY 2016, a drop of 37% between FY 2015 and FY 2016. These companies are: TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL Technologies, L&T Infotech and Mindtree.

The Indian IT industry has come under intense scrutiny in the US over the use of H-1B visas. The US gives out around 65,000 H-1B visas annually.

The Indian IT industry has also been targeted by various US lawmakers who have proposed various Bills to prevent outsourcing and placed severe conditions on the use of the H-1B visas, which are seen as taking away American jobs.

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