L-1B visas: India tells US to define ‘specialised knowledge’ clearly

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on June 04, 2015


Move prompted by spurt in rejection of applications by Indian professionals

Concerned about the increase in the rejection rate of work visas for highly-skilled professionals, especially those working for IT companies, India has asked the US to ensure that its new visa guidelines clearly define ‘specialised knowledge’ and do not leave it to the interpretation of visa officials.

“We have told the US that the training protocol of visa officials or adjudicators should be such that the same application for a visa being examined by different officers should not get assessed differently,” a government official told BusinessLine.

Trade officials from both countries recently participated in a video conference where India gave recommendations on the proposed guidelines for L-1B visas, which permit multinational companies to transfer employees who possess ‘specialised knowledge’ from their foreign operations to their operations in the US.

Most major Indian IT companies operating in the US, such as Infosys and TCS, have been hit by the increase in the rejection of L-1B visas, which was over 50 per cent in 2014, says a report by research body National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), released in March.

In its recommendations, New Delhi said that all factors that determine eligibility for L-1B visa should be clearly tabulated.

“There has to be clarity on how a professional with a SAP AAA+ qualification with one year experience and another professional with a lower qualification, say SAP AA+, but with three years experience, are to be treated,” the official said.

US President Barack Obama announced in March that guidelines for issuing L-1B visas should be relaxed, following which the US Citizenship and Immigration Services division started working on it.

According to IT body Nasscom, functional experts or graduates in specialised areas, such as computer science, IT and mechanics, with necessary experience, should also be considered under this visa category — with added training by the sponsoring firm for one year.

Bearing the brunt

Interestingly, the denial rate for L-1B visas for Indian companies is much higher than for other countries. In 2014, the overall denial rate of such visas was 34 per cent.

But if Indian petitions are removed from the calculation, the overall rate falls to 13 per cent, according to the NFAP report.

The rate of denial for Indian nationals from fiscal year 2012 to 2014 was a high 56 per cent, the report added.

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Published on June 04, 2015
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