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H-1B Visa Update: Why Indian IT Firms Have Reason to Cheer


The US government said that H-1B visa applications can no longer be denied on the sole ground that the applicant is a computer programmer. The move has brought a huge relief to India’s IT ecosystem, as the country accounts for about a significant share of H-1B visas issued every year.

The Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) rescinded its earlier guidance memo, which held that computer programmers are not entitled to H-1B ‘speciality’ occupation visas. announced that registration for H-1B visa application for the financial year 2021-’22 will begin on March 9 and continue till March 25.

The US appeals court rules in favor of grant of H-1B visas to computer programmers In this case, Innova Solutions had sought to hire an Indian citizen to work as a computer programmer. The H-1B visa application was denied by USCIS The move came after the US appeals court ruled on December 16, 2020 that the USCIS used the said memo to deny H-1B petition in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner for an employee at Innova Solutions.

Given that Indians are the largest beneficiaries of the visa, such decisions had a huge impact on the companies that are hiring due to the uncertainty and also the entire IT ecosystem. With the memo rescinded, there is better clarity on the H-1B visa denials for employers as well the employees.

The results will be notified to successful applicants by March 31. The visas will continue to be granted through the lottery system. The applicants will be able to join their workplaces on October 1, when the American financial year begins.

India accounts for about a significant share of H-1B visas issued every year and this is a huge relief to the entire IT fraternity, at least in the short term, given that the implementation would make it tough for entry-level and those with fewer years of experience to qualify for an H-1B visa.

The Joe Biden administration is expected to liberalizes the Donald Trump-era visa policies. Last month, it had withdrawn the ban on work authorization for H4 visa holders, who are spouses of those possessing H-1B work visas.

IT industry body Nasscom said in a statement, “While Nasscom welcomes the move, prioritizing purely on wage levels has the potential to significantly damage some of the most innovative companies in the world along with many hospitals and health care providers, research facilities, universities and other petitioners.”

Indeed. If the wage-based lottery selection were to be implemented, smaller IT firms will not be able to offer higher wages for fresh graduates and hence would lose access to the highly-skilled talent pool. For larger IT firms, this would mean additional cost and it is yet to be seen how the hiring pattern would change.

That said, the Biden administration also ensures they pretty much on track. That said if the registrations go beyond the 85,000 H-1B allocated for the year, petitioners would be selected based on lottery, which is likely to be replaced by wage in the next year.

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