H-1B Visa Denial Rates Decline for India’s IT Companies: NFAP Study

The denial rate for H-1B visa applications for India’s top IT services companies declined by 3% in the first six months of the financial year 2021 (October 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021), a study by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) showed.    

The report also indicated that the drop is significant compared to the 7% denial rate in the FY2020 and a much higher denial rate of 12% in the previous two fiscal years.   

Legal challenges pushed the US lawmakers to reserve restrictive immigration policies introduced by the Trump administration, resulting in this sharp decline, NFAP attributes as the cause of this notable decline. This has impacted new H-1B applications and is likely to have much long-term impact. The denial rate for H-1B applications for initial employment was 7.1% during the first two quarters of FY2021. In contrast, the denial rate for initial employment during the first two quarters of FY2020 was 28.6%.   

NFAP suggests the reason behind the decline in the denial rate is US courts’ rulings against H-1B policies during the Trump era. For instance, “US Citizenship and Immigration Services was forced to issue a new policy memo replacing the February 2018 memo on ‘contracts and itineraries requirements for H-1B petitions (applications) involving third-party worksites’ after losing a court case and later agreeing to a settlement with the business group ITServe Alliance,” the non-partisan public policy research organisation said in its latest report. “Additionally, USCIS rescinded the ‘Neufeld’ memo, a January 2010 memo interpreted more aggressively during the Trump administration to deny H-1B petitions when companies engage in work at customer sites by H-1B visa holders.”   

Companies like Infosys, TCS, and Wipro that hold rank among the top 25 in terms of sponsoring and hiring H-1B workers, including Indian headquartered companies, witnessed a significant decline in denial rates for initial employment applications. 

Company March 31, 2021 March 31, 2020 Percentage points 
Infosys 59% 5% -54 
Wipro 39% 8% -31 
TCS 15% 7% -8 
Tech Mahindra 32% 8% -24 
Larsen & Toubro 27% 3% -24 

India constitutes the largest chunk of beneficiaries of H-1B visas. Around 3.19 lakh (74.9%) of H-1B visas issued or renewed during the fiscal year closed September 30, 2020, were allotted to Indians under new visa applications. After the allotment, India received 73,717 visas (60% of the total new visas allotted), USCIS data indicates. 

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