Applications for H-1B work visas saw a decline for the first time since 2014, according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This has been announced amid a move to tighten rules that allow skilled workers, especially from India, to seek employment in the United States.
According to a CNN report, this year the agency received only 199,000 applications, a drop from 2,36,000 applications last year. The number had been climbing since at least 2013, the report added.
At the start of H-1B season, the USCIS had announced that it would take a “more targeted approach” this time in visiting the workplaces.
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows US firms to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. It is highly popular among Indians and the technology companies depend on the programme to hire employees in huge numbers each year.
Indian IT giants like TCS, Infosys and Wipro are among the major beneficiaries of H-1B visas. The annual cap on these visas is 85,000, of which 20,000 are reserved for Master’s degree holders.
Meawhile, US President Donald Trump is set to sign an executive order that would tighten the process of issuing the H-1B visas. The US President will likely travel to Milwaukee in Wisconsin to sign the ‘Buy American, Hire American’ Executive Order.
Trump had made the alleged abuse and fraud in H-1B visa system a major election issue during his campaign. This visa system has been criticized following high-profile examples of American workers being replaced by lower-paid foreigners through the program.
(With PTI inputs)