WASHINGTON: There was a sharp 10 per cent decline in the approval of H-1B visas by the US in the fiscal year 2018 which experts attributed to the "aggressive" policies of the Trump administration to clamp down on the use of the work visa programme, popular among highly-skilled Indian IT professionals.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved 335,000 H-1B visas, which included both new and renewable, in the fiscal year 2018.
This was 10 per cent less from 373,400 in the previous fiscal year of 2017, according to the USCIS's annual statistical report. The approval rate of H-1B declined from 93 per cent in 2017 to 85 per cent in 2018. "This administration has aggressively pursued strategies to clamp down on use of the H-1B programme, and these efforts are now showing in the data," Migration Policy Institute analyst Sarah Pierce was quoted as saying by The Mercury News.
The daily said for the first six months of this fiscal year, the overall H-1B approval rate for new and continuing visas continued to plummet to 79 per cent by the end of March, down from 85 per cent last year. The Trump administration has tightened the noose on firms violating H-1B visa rules. President Donald Trump has himself accused many IT companies of abusing the work visas to deny jobs to American workers.
Two years ago, Trump signed the Buy American and Hire American executive order, which seeks to create higher wages and employment rates for US workers and to protect their economic interests by rigorously enforcing and administering our immigration laws.
It directed the Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with other agencies, to advance policies to help ensure H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid beneficiaries. The H-1B visa programme is the main vehicle through which US employers can sponsor skilled foreign workers for admission.
According to the latest statistical annual report, in 2018, the USCIS completed 396,300 H-1B application as against 403,300 in 2017. In 2018, 396,300 H-1B beneficiary petitions were processed, which is 13 per cent more over the five fiscal years and two per cent less from 2017. In 2018, the USCIS completed 850,000 naturalisation requests, a five year high and granted 1.1 million green cards.