With Increasing Demand For Tech Talent In US, H-1B Visa Approval Rates Rise In FY21

This year, the US administration has issued a higher number of H-1B visas with an increasing demand for highly skilled tech professionals. Approval rates for H-1B visas in the quarter to June and the first three quarters of the US financial year were 98.1% and 97%, respectively. Compared to this, the approval rates were about 84% in 2018 and 2019, during the Donald Trump administration. 

Earlier, the IT major Infosys declared that approval rates for its H-1B visa applications in the US increase significantly starting from the first quarter of FY21. Infosys Chief Operating Officer Pravin Rao, at the company’s 40th annual general meeting, said that the company plans to continue recruiting “at scale” on the back of strong demand for IT and digital services. 

During the Trump administration, a higher number of visa applications were rejected by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), leading to a fall in the approval rates. The USCIS also asked for additional supporting documents to be submitted. 

“There are multiple reasons for lesser RFEs (request for evidence) and higher rate of approvals including change in the administration, the reinstatement of the deference policy and of course the ITServe decision as it pertains to IT staffing companies. The environment for legal immigration has gotten better in the past six months,” Nandini Nair, partner at Greenspoon Marder, a law firm, was quoted as saying.  

The USCIS in June 2020 revoked two policy memos related to the adjudication of certain H-1B visa positions after having settled the matter with ITServe Alliance, the US-based IT industry body. This development came after the agency was directed by a US district court to do away with the ‘Neufeld Memo’, which required petitioners to establish an employee-employer relationship specifically.  

The immigration agency often used this memo to reject visa petitions from staffing companies or IT services companies that would tend to deploy workers at client locations. As the agency had not received enough applications to meet the Congressionally-mandated cap, it said last month that it would conduct a second lottery for the next fiscal year. 

The United States every year issues 65,000 fresh H-1B visas. It issues another 20,000 for people who have received a Masters’ degree in the US. Immigration experts say that there is a need to overhaul the visa application process, which currently allows employers to apply for visas more than six months before they can be deployed. 

“I fundamentally believe that the registration system needs to be modified or revised as it has allowed for many to game the system and take away opportunities for others…. In fact, I believe the lottery system should be completely taken away and US employers should be allowed to file anytime during the year when they have need. Obviously, we are in a labour shortage in the US and eliminating this archaic lottery system would be helpful to the US economy,” Nandini Nair said. 

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