The H-1B visa programme in the US has started to accept applications for fiscal 2019 from April 2 amidst the background of tighter scrutiny.
The H-1B visa programme in the US has started to accept applications for fiscal 2019 from April 2 amidst the background of tighter scrutiny even as the large Indian IT companies such as Infosys, Wipro have announced plans to increase the hiring of American citizens over a period of time.
As in previous years, there is no change in the number of H-1B visas which will be granted annually and the cap stands at 65,000. It remains to be seen whether the US agency will receive the required number of applications within a short period of time which generally gets filled up in a few days.
However, this year there is a changed scenario with the US imposing various restrictions on the use of H-1B visas like suspending the premium segment of these work permits, increased scrutiny at third party worksites or definition of speciality occupation.
On the likely demand for H-1B visas this year, Raja Lahiri, partner, Grant Thornton India, said, “It is too early to say whether the application will be lesser or higher. However, already big Indian IT services companies have started hiring locally in the US. I believe that will continue. There is a transition happening in the model which the companies operate, i.e. shifting more towards a visa independent model.”
H-1B visas play a critical role for the Indian IT companies to execute their projects in the US, which accounts for majority of its revenue. Indian IT companies have been one of the largest recipients of these visas that have put them under increased spotlight from several lawmakers in the US.
Earlier, when the US put in stringent regulations for third-party worksites, Nasscom had stated, “Initial perusal suggests that it applies to all third-party placements and not just those involving Indian or dependent companies. This will be an unnecessary and expensive paperwork burden that will not make much difference.”
The industry body reiterated that Indian IT companies have consistently followed the regulations governing H-1B visas in the US as shown in regular audits done on these firms, though it added, “Ultimately, this action seems to be at odds with the administration’s effort to reduce regulation and red tape.”
At the same time, Indian IT companies have also started to increase their headcount in the US which includes local hiring. Infosys has said that it will hire 10,000 local Americans over the next two years with the opening of four development centres. Wipro has said locals form over 55% of its US workforce of more than 13,000.
By Pradeesh Chandran