43% drop in H-1B applications this time, a historic lowLast updated on Apr 13, 2018, 05:05 pm
Amid tightened norms by the US, the number of applications received for H-1B visas for the 2018 hiring cycle has reached a historic low.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received "1,90,098 petitions during the filing period which began on April 2, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption."
This is the lowest since 2007, when 3,14,621 petitions were received.
What is the H-1B visa?
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations requiring theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
The Trump administration has brought several changes tightening rules
The Trump administration has introduced many changes. Unlike the earlier three-year tenure, H-1B visas will now be granted for only the time the beneficiary has specified work in the US.
H-1B-holders wouldn't be able to move between projects/firms in America.
All duplicate applications filed for one candidate, and those requesting earlier employment start-date, will be rejected.
Premium processing for most has been suspended too.
Employers have had to delay projects or transfer work outside
Resultantly, "Indian consulting firms, which have been accused of flooding the system with applications, have dramatically reduced their filings," the San Francisco Chronicle reported this month.
For Indian companies, the charge for applications ($6,000/Rs. 3.9L) is anyway higher than firms of other countries.
This has forced 26% employers to delay projects and 22% to relocate work overseas, said Envoy Global, an immigration services provider.
A 43% drop in visa applications this year
This year's is the second consecutive drop in the number of applications; the first such fall since 2007 was in 2017, when it fell from 3,99,349 to 3,36,107.
Though the USCIS didn't comment on this year's drop of 43%, most quarters agree the main factor is Indian IT companies facing heightened scrutiny.
The US grants 65,000 H-1B visas annually to professionals hired abroad.
Lottery done, USCIS to now start returning applications
The cap for this year was reached within two days, the USCIS had said. It has already selected enough applications in two lotteries.
However, it doesn't mean automatic grant of visa. Shortlisted applicants would now be screened further.
The USCIS will now start rejecting and returning all unselected petitions, unless there was violation of rules on multiple filings.