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All You Need To Know About The H1B Visa

75% of the H1B visas issued go to Indians.

Indians approved in H1B

Yes, you read that right. While there’s no surprise over how important the H1B visa is for Indians, what’s worth noting is that we rule the lottery system. Recently, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the H1B lottery result for 2018. Over 80,000 applicants were randomly selected, of which 63% were Indians. In fact, in the years, Indians have made up 40% of the total applications, and on an average, 75% of the total H1B selections. These stats come despite President Donald Trump’s repeated announcements about changing the H1B system. 

So here’s all you need to know about the visa and why it’s such a big deal in India.

What is H1B Visa?

The H1B visa allows U.S. based employers to hire skilled employees for specialty positions from around the world. The visa lets an individual work in the country for 3-years, extendable to 6-years. During the individual’s stay, he or she can apply for a green card and citizenship. The H1B visa takes in 65,000 general-category applicants, another 20,000 people holding a masters degree from U.S. universities and 6800 citizens from Singapore and Chile.

The visa regulations, however, mandate that the applicant receives a minimum salary offer of $6.5lakh pa to be eligible for consideration. Only the eligibility requirements are fulfilled, applicants are selected randomly through a computer-generated software, which is why it is called the lottery system.

According to statistics from the Department of Labour, in 2016, the top 3 Indian companies acquiring staff through the H1-B visa policy were TCS, Wipro, and Infosys. Some other companies with the most number of H1B visas approved include HCL, Cognizant, Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle.

While nothing is yet set in stone, President Trump is calling for several plans to be put in place to reduce the number of opportunities that people and companies have to abuse the system. Of course, all these prospective changes may never see the light of day as Trump’s focus on racist attacks keeps shifting across the globe.

What are the probable changes?

The H1B visa sees small changes every year, to accommodate trends and demands. However, in the past few years, several reforms have been attempted/suggested to the guidelines of the H1-B visa. Some of these include increasing the minimum wage requirement to double of what it is now, i.e. $130,000 per annum from the existing $60,000. Companies shall also be mandated to make a good attempt at hiring U.S. citizens first, and only on not being able to do so can they hire foreigners for the positions required. In addition to this, in the past years, U.S. President Donald Trump has been taking a tough stand on immigration laws in accordance with his “Buy American, Hire American” campaign. Earlier last year, Trump was also planning to completely overhaul the system by changing the lottery process into a merit-based system.

Why is it so important to companies and applicants?

H1B visas help American firms sponsor foreign skilled labour at a slightly lower rate than that at which their own citizens are hired. Labourers too were aware of this wage discrepancy but overtly supported the system for allowing them to live and work in the U.S. This is why, as soon as news of new H1B reforms surfaced in 2016, share prices of Wipro, Microsoft, and Infosys suffered a huge downfall. With the new wage rate in place, even companies like Google, which are considered the highest payer in the industry, fell under the median wage bracket. Immigrants feared that the demand for H1B would reduce with a higher salary bar, thus leading to massive protests across the U.S.

H1B Visa Lottery 2019

Going by the trends, H1B petitions are set to increase in the 2019 lottery. As per statistics, each applicant has about 35% chance of getting selected. Despite the 65,000 cap, the USCIS has always selected more candidates and wait-listed them, in case of any petition withdrawals or rejections. All this being the same, the H1B visa lottery 2019 will most likely entertain more Indians than this year, as the demand for the visa among Indians has only been rising.

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