Thiruvananthapuram: The career aspirations of Indian IT professionals, particularly, have been dealt a severe blow with US President Donald Trump's decision to temporarily suspend the issuing of H-1B visas. Bulk of the H-1B visa applications to the US are made by Indians.
About 67.7 per cent of the H-1B visa applications were from India this year, while it was 74.5 per cent (3.13 lakh) in 2019. China, which is on the second spot, had a mere 11.8 per cent applications for this popular non-immigrant temporary work visa in 2019.
Adding to worries, the current H-1B visa cannot be renewed as well. These regulations will have a long-term impact as restrictions will come in place for the Permanent Resident Card, popularly known as the Green Card, as well.
The IT professionals mainly apply for the H-1B visa though it is open for candidates with theoretical or technical expertise in other occupations. (The L1 visa is for manager/executive roles.)
On Monday, Trump had signed an executive order to freeze the issuing of several visas, including the H-1B, until December in a bid to open up more jobs for US nationals in the wake of the gloomy economic scenario that has especially worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump's announcement comes even as the visa filing procedures for this year are set to be completed. Those currently involved in the procedures are unlikely to be issued the visa. However, restrictions are relaxed for those in the food sector.
The US will also implement the merit-based system for issuing visas instead of the electronic lottery system. Based on this, those with high salaries will be given priority.
If the restrictions continue, then the Indian IT companies will also have to recruit US nationals.
US tech giants, including Google, Apple, Amazon, and Tesla, have opposed the move as they would lose out on skilled professionals from other countries.
Step increase in rejections
After Trump’s ascend to the Oval Office, the rejection rate of visa applications of Indian companies, such as TCS, Infosys, and Wipro, has increased manifold.
The average rate at which visa applications were rejected was at six per cent prior to the Trump administration, while it rose to 30 per cent in 2020, i.e., a five-fold increase.
Apart from this, the application expenses also saw a steep rise and even Kerala-based companies had to cut down on the H-1B visa applications and start recruiting US nationals.
Plan B for US-based students
Students, who are on F-1 student visa in the US, are permitted to work for one more year after the completion of the course, as per the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme. They need to get a job within 90 days after the course and this can be gradually converted to H-1B visa. Thus, Indians, studying in the US, will benefit despite the restrictions.
As many as 65,000 H-1B visas are issued every year, and 20,000 visas are issued for those with US master degrees.