H-1B Visa Approvals Drop for Indian IT Companies Between 2015-17: U.S. Think Tank

The report stated that the annual limit of 85,000 is too low for an economy the size of the United States.


The top seven Indian IT companies saw a whopping 43 per cent dip in their H-1B approvals from 2015 to 2017, according to a U.S. think tank, The National Foundation for American Policy.

As per the report published on April 19, the 8,468 new H-1B visas for India-based companies in the financial year 2017 were only 0.006 per cent of the 160 million in the U.S. labor force.

The 8,468 approved H-1B petitions for initial employment in 2017 financial year is a decline of 43 per cent for these companies from the 2015 financial year. These companies received 14,792 H-1B visa approvals in the 2015 financial year.

There were 199,000 applications filed for the financial year 2017 for the 2018 financial cap, which is in fact, 105,000 in excess of the H-1B annual limit for the year, PTI reported. The report highlighted that even if none of these companies received new H-1B visas, the annual limit still would have been reached on the first day of the April filing period.

The report, citing the data, said that the problem is not which companies are receiving H-1B visas, “but that the 85,000-annual limit is too low for an economy the size of the United States.” The report which obtained data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said that Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) received 2,312 H-1B visas in 2017 as against 4,674 in 2015–a drop of 51 per cent.

In the same period, Infosys saw a plunge of 57 per cent from 2,830 H-1B visas in 2015 to 1,218 H-1B visas in 2017. Wipro, meanwhile, got 1,210 H-1B visas approved in 2017 as opposed to 3,079 in 2015. Tech Mahindra saw a rise from 1,576 in 2015 to 2,233 H-1B visas in 2017.

Cognizant had the received the most H-1B visas for new employment in 2017 with 3,194, which is a decline of 800 approved H-1B petitions, that is about 25 per cent from 2016.

When compared to the financial year of 2016, five of the seven Indian companies saw a decline in 2017–Infosys, Wipro, HCL America, Larsen & Toubro and Mindtree. Only TCS, with an increase of 13 per cent, and Tech Mahindra, which increased by 42 per cent, had more H-1B petitions for initial employment approved in FY 2017 than in FY 2016, the report added.

As per the report, the National Foundation for American Policy attributed the drop in H-1B visas for Indian-based companies to industry trends toward digital services. U.S. as well as Indian-based IT services companies are getting requests for digital engineering and more sophisticated services, which include better data analysis from their clients. This requires fewer workers and more advanced technology such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence. It also attributed it to companies building up their domestic workforce in the United States. In most cases, companies require fewer people per project, the report said.

Filing for H-1B visa applications for the fiscal year 2019 began on April 2, 2018, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USCIS) announced earlier. The USCIS said that it would be scrutinizing details of employment if the beneficiary will be employed on a third-party worksite.

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