H1-B visa applications hit 3-year high in the first half of FY20

Venkatesh Ganesh Mumbai | Updated on May 04, 2020

Amidst immigration suspension and high rejection rates in the last few years, H1-B visa applications in the first half of the financial year 2020 were at a three year high.

According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and rating agency CARE data, applications have been received for 217,000 H1-B visas during this period. Of this, 85.3 per cent have been processed.

In comparison, the number of H1-B applications was 198,000 in the first half of 2019, with 79.8 per cent of visas processed. In 2018, the number of H1-B applications was 189,000 in the first half of the year, with 81.5 per cent of visas processed. Every year, 65,000 H1-B and L-1 visas are granted, which includes renewals.

Interestingly, this development needs to be seen in the backdrop of a temparory immigration suspension in the US as a result of Covid-19 pandemic. However, USCIS has clarified that H1-B, which is a non-immigrant visa does not fall under the suspension category.

Also, the large number of applications come despite the US government making rules of H1-B stricter as a part of the ‘Buy American and Hire American’ order passed in 2017.

Visa applicants over the past few years, there has been a rise in the number of cases that were ordered Request for Evidence (RFE) by the USCIS. RFE is a notice sent out by USCIS to the applicant, seeking missing initial / additional evidence. Once the applicant submits the evidence, a decision is taken on whether to approve or deny the visa.

In the first half of fiscal 2020, almost half of the visa petitions came under RFE. Around 41.7 per cent of total H-1B visas petitions were processed after ordering an RFE and out of these 67.8 per cent were granted an H-1B visa. Visa rejection rates were around 30 per cent in 2019, and only two Indian companies were among the top ten visa recipients.

It is estimated that around there are around 5.5 lakh visa holders in the US.

Published on May 04, 2020

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