Despite a higher rate of rejection, issuance of H-1B Visa in India increased 24 per cent in 2010-11, one of the highest-ever in the history of the US Mission to India.
The total number of H-1B visas issued (for specialised skill work) during the just-concluded FY11 was 67,195, an official statement said on Tuesday. For FY10, the tally stood at 54,111. The US government’s fiscal year extends from October through September.
H-1B visas, which are issued for a short duration and used maximum by the Indian IT services industry, have an annual cap of 65,000. This does not apply to renewals and to the 20,000 advances degrees.
Overall, the 24 per cent rise in H-1B visa issuance illustrates the booming nature of the US-India business relations, according to the US Embassy. “India is the single largest beneficiary of H-1B visas by a wide margin: in the past four years, applicants in India have received more than twice as many H-1B visas as the four next-highest countries combined,” its public affairs office said here. India also remained the leader in the issuances of L-1 (intra-company transfer) visas, issuing more than 25,000 L-1s in FY 2011 – or 37 per cent of issuances worldwide, it added in a statement.
“It is a fact that the visa rejection have gone up substantially,” said Cyrus D Mehta of a US-based law firm. “The reason for this increase could be either a rise in the overall applications (including for renewals) or procedural delays,” said Mehta, Attorney at Law with Cyrus D Mehta and Associates in New York. The pattern shows a demand for the H-1B visa talent, it added.
Industry players said the numbers were not a surprising. “It is true that the rejection rate for H-1B visa has gone up significantly, but at the same time the demand for people in US continues,” said a senior official from a leading IT services firm. “It is getting difficult these days to get relevant visa due to increased scrutiny. That, however, does not mean a dip in the demand for such talent in the US.”
All the same, the FY12 cap for H-1B visa is yet to be achieved. As of this month, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would continue to accept H-1B non-immigrant petitions for FY12. Till then, USCIS has received approximately 43,000 H-1B petitions counting toward the 65,000 cap. No new update from the USCIS was available. The USCIS accepts petition for H-1B visas in April of every year.
The number of new H-1Bs issued each year in the United States is subject to an annual quota mandated by Congress. Those beneficiaries not subject to this are those who currently hold H-1B status or have held the H-1B status at some point in the past six years and have not been outside the US for more than 365 consecutive days. Both US (read Silicon Valley) and Indian companies have repeatedly stressed the need to raise the cap, which was reduced from 1,95,000 to 65,000 two years ago.