For another year running, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Friday announced an early end of the process for accepting applications for H1B temporary work visas for high skilled foreign workers for 2018.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) On March 31 issued a clarification that computer programmers, to be eligible under the H-1B visa norms, must prove that theirs is a specialty occupation. The USCIS has said it will continue to "accept and process" applications for visas that do not fall within the aforementioned H1-B visa caps.
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Asserting that its multiple measures announced today will further "deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse", the USCIS said the H-1B visa programme should help U.S. companies recruit highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country.
Last year, the US government received 236,000 visa petitions for FY 2017, a new record. But Indian firms such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro and HCL Technologies have been reducing dependency on H-1B visas, accounting for less than 20% of visas issued annually. The number of applications received since the filing period began Monday has not been released yet.
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The new USCIS memo rescinds and supersedes a legacy memo from 2000 that dealt specifically with the adjudication of computer programmer H-1B applications. The same goes for employers that hire H-1B workers and then have them working "off-site" or at another company.
"President Trump wants to tighten the requirements for the H-1B visa, to make it harder to use that kind of visa for an entry-level job", said Mark Vitner, senior economist with San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank.
H-1B visas were introduced in 1990 (although similar visas for guest workers predate them) to address the shortage of U.S. workers with specific skills. The Trump administration has sent mixed signals about the program, suggesting that it has merit, but also warning against its abuse.
The USCIS didn't say how many visa petitions it received, and an agency spokeswoman said counting up the final number will take a week or two.
According to a report in Quartz India last month, Infosys applied for more than 33,000 H-1B visas in 2016, by far the biggest number of any company.