Immigration experts believe that there could be a decline in the number of H-1B petitions filed by India’s IT service companies due to the tough environment created by the US administration under President Donald Trump. The filings have already begun and will conclude when the immigration authority of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services determines that they have received enough applications to meet their upper limit of 65,000 visas that will be issued in the year.
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Scott FitzGerald, a partner in US immigration stated that the general consensus seems to be that the filings of H-1B petitions by Indian IT companies will be as low as 50% compared to recent years. The US administration has been increasing the stringency with which the scrutiny in visa application works. A policy was issued in February that allowed its officers to demand a detailed documentation from applicants in order to determine if they have specific assignments in a specialty occupation for the H-1B beneficiary for the duration mentioned in the petition. The visa rejection rates have risen markedly.
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Fitzgerald mentioned that the petitions will be rejected if USCIS considers it to be an incomplete incase of missing signatures, missing or incorrectly checked boxes and missing or incorrect filing fee checks. This has also increased the administrative work for the IT firms and lawyers to audit the checklist for all the filings. This and an increase in requests for evidence has led to higher legal fees which discourage Indian companies from filing too many petitions.
Indian IT companies have been the biggest users of the H-1B visas for many years and they use it to send employees from India to the US to service the clients there. However, Trump believes the companies do not do enough to find local talent for the same job and prefer Indian employees because they are cheaper. Indian companies are establishing development centers in the US to tap into local talent there. Their overall dependency on the program is likely to reduce this year. There is a concern about the willingness and qualification of US workers to take up these jobs when they typically require frequent relocation to new client engagements. If not, the Indian companies will have to recruit talent away from the traditional IT staffing firms.