More US Visa Trouble for Indian Techies

Alicia Cross
October 27, 2017

The new directive is in sync with the Donald Trump administration's goal to protect American workers from discrimination and replacement by foreign labour, NumberUSA website said. USA receives about 85,000 applications for H-1B visa along with the L-1 every year, and is especially popular with Indian IT professionals. The updated guidance instructs officers to apply the same level of scrutiny when reviewing nonimmigrant visa extension requests even where the petitioner, beneficiary and underlying facts are unchanged from a previously approved petition.

The new rules change the previous policy wherein an H-1B visa extension request was considered pretty much a done deal with minimum official processes involved.

According to the latest memorandum by USCIS, the burden on the federal agency was placed with the previous memorandum of April 23, 2004.

The US H1-B visa is a non-immigrant visa, which allows firms to hire foreign workers in specialised occupations.

"We are going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first", Trump declared at the time. Renouncing its over 13-year-old strategy, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said the weight of evidence in setting up qualification is, constantly, on the petitioner.

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External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said she had raised the issue of H-1B visas with visiting U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson and had asked the USA to do nothing that would adversely affect India's interests. The H1-B and L1 work visas are majorly used by Indian IT professionals.

"This is most evident in our mutually beneficial digital partnership, driven by our skilled professionals". While adjudicators may ultimately reach the same conclusion as in a prior decision, they are not compelled to do so as a default starting point as the burden of proof to establish eligibility for an immigration benefit always lies with the petitioner. "In this regard, we have also discussed the very significant contribution to the United States economy of Indian skilled professionals who travel and work under the H1-B and L-1 visa programmes", the minister said.

Other visas impacted by the new guidance include L-1, for intracompany transfers, TN for Canadian and Mexican citizens, and O-1, for those with "extraordinary abilities".

Moreover, this change has been made not only for new visa applicants but also retroactively for people already living in the US.

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