H-1B Visa Denial Rate Highest Among Indian IT Companies Under Trump, Study Shows
That Indian nationals account for a large chunk of H-1B visas is a “testimony” of their skill set, Nasscom said on Thursday. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

H-1B Visa Denial Rate Highest Among Indian IT Companies Under Trump, Study Shows

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The denial rate for H-1B visa petitions have increased from 6 percent in 2015 to 24 percent in the third quarter of the current fiscal, a study carried out by an American think-tank has showed.

The study by the National Foundation for American Policy, based on data received from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, also shows that denial rate for H-1B visas is highest among major Indian IT companies.

The denial rate of H-1B petitions for initial employment for Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp. and Google (Alphabet Inc.) in 2015 was just 1 percent. In 2019, the same increased to 6 percent, 8 percent, 7 percent and 3 percent, respectively. The denial rate for Apple remained the same at 2 percent.

During the same period, the H-1B denial rate jumped from 4 percent to 41 percent for Tech Mahindra Ltd., from 6 percent to 34 percent for Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., from 7 percent to 53 percent for Wipro Ltd., the study showed.

At least 12 companies that provide professional or IT services to other U.S. companies, including Accenture PLC and Capgemini SE, had H-1B denial rates of over 30 percent through the first three quarters of 2019. Most of these companies had denial rates between 2 percent and 7 percent as recently as in 2015, it said.

The denial rate for H-1B petitions for continuing employment was also high for Indian IT companies. For Tech Mahindra, it increased from 2 percent to 16 percent between 2015 and 2019, while that of Wipro increased from 4 percent to 19 percent. The H-1B denial rate for Infosys increased from 1 percent to 29 percent, the study showed.

But denial rates for H-1B petitions for continuing employment among major American companies were low—Amazon, from 1 percent to 3 percent; Microsoft, constant at 2 percent; Intel, from 1 percent to 3 percent; Apple, constant at 1 percent; and Google, 0.4 percent in 2015 to 1 percent in 2019.

Between 2010 and 2015, the denial rate for "initial" H-1B petitions never exceeded 8 percent while today the rate is three times higher, said the National Foundation for American Policy.

"A key goal of the Trump administration achieved through memos and policy changes has been to make it more difficult for well-educated foreign nationals to work in America in science and engineering fields," the foundation said.

In the first three quarters of 2019, U.S. CIS adjudicators denied 24 percent of H-1B petitions for "initial" employment and 12 percent of H-1B petitions for "continuing" employment, it said.

The 12 percent denial rate for continuing employment is also historically high. It was only 3 percent in 2015, the think-tank said.

"Based on how the agency processes cases, this data suggests the environment has not improved for employers," said Lynden Melmed, a partner at Berry Appleman & Leiden and former chief counsel for U.S. CIS.

“Cream of the crop’ cases would have been approved during that time period, but cases where the government issued a Request for Evidence would likely not show up in that data set because they would not be decided until much later,” he said.

A research by Britta Glennon, assistant professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, found that "restrictive H-1B policies could not only be exporting more jobs and businesses to countries like Canada, but they also could be making the U.S.' innovative capacity fall behind".

In response to being unable to hire high-skilled foreign nationals, U.S. companies increase their hiring overseas, which causes more innovation by foreign nationals to take place in other countries, benefiting those nations, the think-tank said.

Also read: U.S. Needs More Skilled Immigrants From Two Countries

H-1B visa restrictions, such as those now being implemented by the administration, push jobs outside the U.S. and lead to less innovation in America, it said.

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