H1B Visa Applications: Increase in Denials of H1B Visa Petitions by Indians: Know Fees, Eligibility Criteria & Other Details
Indian Passport (File Photo)

According to a study conducted by a Washington based think tank National Foundation For American Policy, Indians are the maximum among those who have applied for H-1B (H1B) Visa in the United States. The report further highlighted that there has been a substantial increase in denial of H-1B visa petitions of Indians by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as compared to other nationalities.

The H-1B visa allows US companies to hire foreign nationals to work in certain positions for a limited period of time. As per rules, the workers are eligible to live and work in the US on this visa must have skills in speciality occupations.

What is H-1B visa?

The H-1B (H1B) visa an employment-based and non-immigrant visa category for temporary workers. With this visa, the US companies can recruit skilled and efficient workers from other countries for various specialised fields of occupation. It must be noted that the visa is given only for a certain period of time. The H-1B programme is just not limited to those in the technology sector but is open to a broad range of occupations.

Eligibility to get H-1B visa:

As per the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the minimum requirement for the job is usually a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. It is standard practice in the industry to request a bachelor’s degree for the position. It has to be noted that only a bachelor’s degree or higher can provide the needed skills to do such complicated work. The employer requires a degree or equivalent.

How to apply for H-1B Visa:

Since limited number of visas are issued issued every year, there is a specific window for applications, which usually starts on April 1st for the fiscal year starting October 1st of the following year.  This means you can apply by April 1st, 2017 for entry in the year starting October 1st, 2018.

H-1B Visa Requirements / Qualification

As per reports, anybody applying for an H-1B visa must have one of the following:

1) A Bachelor's degree or Masters Degree (or the foreign equivalent degree from your Country), OR

2) 12 years work experience, OR

3) A mix of further education + work experience

Meanwhile, the general H1B visa qualification rule is:

- for every 1 year of studies at University / College = 3 points

- for every 1 year of work experience = 1 point

What is the fee for H-1B Visa:

Fee Type Fee (in USD)
Basic Fee for Visa Filing $325 (all petitions)
AICWA or American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 fee $750 $1500 (For employers having 1-25 full time employees for employers who have 26 or more employees)
Fraud Prevent and Detection Fee $500 (For new H1B and for Change of employer(s) petitions.
Fee that is based on Public Law 114-113 $4000 (Only applicable for more than half the employees are on L1 visa or H1B visa status
Premium Processing fee (if needed urgently) $1,225 (For quicker procurement of visa)
Immigration Attorney Fee $500-$3000 (Varies based on the attorney)
H1b visa stamping fees Varies, depending on the country (This is for availing H1B visa at the US consulate)

*The above fee structure is updated for the year 2017

According to reports, the United States US allows up to 85,000 new H-1B visas each year. The recipients are being allowed to stay in the US up to six years. Reports further inform that as the demand tends to be higher, the US tops this up with an annual lottery. About 70 per cent of these visas go to Indians as they are hired mostly by IT companies in the US. Due to the surge H1B visas, Americans feel that H-1B visas are increasingly being abused and that locals are often laid off in exchange of foreign workers.

H-1B visa duration:

The H1B visa is issued for three to six years to employers to hire a foreign worker. It has to be noted that the H1B itself is strictly limited to the initial 3 years plus possible 3-year extension. However, an individual may be able to stay longer if you apply for permanent residency (Green Card) while holding an H-1B visa.  But, it is important you apply for the Green Card by the end of year 2 of your extension.

The Trump Administration has been toughening the rules for visa holders who want to extend their stay in the U.S. Earlier in 2017, the Trump administration was reported to have plans to curb H-1B visa extensions that could result in self- deportation of an estimated 500,000-750,000 Indian Americans.  Influential Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said: "Imposing these draconian restrictions on H-1B visa holders will tear families apart, drain our society of talent and expertise, and damage our relationship with an important partner, India.

The Indian IT industries have already seen a hit after US president Donald Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" initiative, which could lead to the deportation of 7,50,000 Indians, most of whom were working as techies. The effects of the Act have already been felt in the Indian markets. The share prices of major tech companies have been plummeting. Infosys, TCS, Wipro, Tech Mahindra and HCL were among those firms that were badly hit.