This year, per the USCIS’s report, the government received 3,36,000 H-1B petitions (both new petitions and extensions) and approved 1,97,129 as of June 30, 2017. One of biggest users of the H-1Bs – technology outsourcing companies – are seeking lesser number of H-1B visas compared to the past few years, as is evident from the declining number of petitions filed this year. There were 2,47,927 H-1B petitions from Indians in 2017 (as of June 30th) down from 3,00,902 in 2016 and 2,69,677 in 2015. This perhaps, is in part due to the anti-immigrant rhetoric perpetuated by the current Trump administration. The USCIS also seems to have paid heed to Trump’s Executive Order on Buy American Hire American. It seems that the agency has been issuing increasing RFEs (Request for Evidence) in H-1B cases, asking for more supporting documentation and job description clarifications.
A lot of Americans have also been expressing anti-foreign worker sentiments through various platforms, one such being the periodic USCIS stakeholder teleconference. In one such recent teleconference, concerned individuals voiced their opinions for and against the H-B regime. Some believe that a lot of the H-1B workers do not possess any specialized skills, are underpaid and take away American jobs while some others believe that the H-1B is systematically being abused by companies, particularly Indian IT companies to provide cheap labor to the U.S. market and make huge profits for themselves. Several suggestions are being put forth such as to grant H-1Bs to only the highly skilled and qualified foreign workers, to eliminate third party consulting companies, paying high salaries to H-1B workers, granting the visa on a need basis only, and so on. On the other hand, there are others in the American society who do feel that the H-1B is an invaluable tool to bring in skilled talent and drive and grow the U.S. economy.
In the current scenario, with the growing ‘Buy American Hire American’ sentiment in the U.S., a major overhaul of the H-1B regime doesn’t seem like a remote possibility anymore. What big changes if any, are awaiting the H-1B program is anyone’s guess!
Unites States Citizenship and Immigration Services at:
Zeenat Phophalia, Esq., Senior Associate