16% lesser employees applied for H1B visas this year compared to 2016. The United States Citizenship and Immigration declared that the applications for the H1B visas were below 200,000 this year. This is the first time since 2014 that the applications have gone so low. There were 199,000 applications submitted by employers this year for 2018 compared to 236,000 applications which were submitted in 2016.
The H1B visa program has been designed to let companies employ workers who are highly skilled in technical jobs based in the United States of America. This was an important policy as the U.S market was having problems in filling these job vacancies in the technology industry.
The number of applications has always exceeded the limit of 85,000 visas which were made available by US. However, this year the applications have decreased drastically. This is the fifth year continuously that the requirement has been fulfilled within five days.
Although the federal government has made considerable changes in 2017 there haven’t been any major changes, much to the disappointment of several officials who have been pushing for extensive changes. There are bills which the Congress would implement for larger reforms but they wouldn’t affect the H1B visa program until next year. The changes which were made by the new government were done to cut down on the excessive issue of visas by the outsourcing companies. These companies targeted on employing lesser skilled workforce at lesser pay scale.
The critics and the Trump administration are completely against this H1B programs because many times American jobs are replaced in this procedure. The government reminded that they were keeping a close watch on the issue of H1B visa program. The United Sates Citizenship and Immigration Services had announced in the beginning of this year that it would take a “more targeted approach” in visiting the place of work of all the H1B petitioners. The employers of H1B visas were asked by the Justice Department not to make any discrimination against the American employees.
The Director of Government Relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Betsy Lawrence stated that it was the atmosphere of improbability which led to fewer H1B applications this year. It is difficult to say what exactly is the cause of the decreased number of applications unless there is more accurate data to prove it. Several employers have not succeeded in petitioning in the past years so they may have decided to avoid the expenses and the trouble taken to file the petition, she added.
This year the accelerated option to process the H1B visa was not provided. Earlier the premium processing guaranteed that if selected in the lottery the H1B petition would have been reviewed within 15 days for an added fee of $1,225 while the non-premium applications could take about 8 months by the time they would get approved. With this temporary hold option the overall processing time of the H1B visa would be reduced says United Sates Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The Indian IT companies have already started to plan their strategies on how to face the new challenges of placements. They have been dependant on the United States based outsourcing companies who have been hiring technologically skilled people in their companies.The companies would have to explore other foreign markets in order to fulfil the placements.
Lobbyist for tech-worker advocacy group IEEE-USA, who had earlier helped in the H1B visa program said that this drop in the petitions shows that there is a change in the approach more than a change in demand for the H1B visas. Since the visas are allotted on the basis of lottery system several companies apply for more than they actually require. The demand is not gone down, whether it is from outsourced or direct employers there is no way 230,000 jobs would have been filled, he said.
One of the biggest users of H1B programme is Infosys Ltd. and the company CEO of Bengaluru hub, Vishal Sikkasaid that there was more of local hiring which was to be done.
President Donald Trump was grave about companies who used the H1B program and bought in foreign workers who took the place of American workers. Since the Trump administration is just settling in and there is much work to be done and bills to be passed, there is nothing which can be said in detail about the H1B program. As of now the United States is still accepting petitions but we never know what the future holds. In the past years the H1B visas were granted through a lottery system, but there are no clues on whether or not there would be any changes made in this procedure. There is no data which has been released by the government on which employers have won.