23% petitions seeking H1-B visas denied in 2019: MEA

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar delivers the 4th Ramnath Goenka Memorial Lecture. (PTI Photo)

About 23 per cent of new petitions seeking H1-B visas for the US were denied in the 2019 fiscal year, the External Affairs Ministry said.

In a written reply in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said according to statistics of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a total 116,031 initial or new H-1B petitions were processed and completed in the Fiscal Year 2019, out of which 27,707 petitions - accounting for about 23.9 per cent - were denied.

"Indian nationals account for nearly 70 per cent of all H-1B visa issued, even though the share of Indian IT companies in the H-1B visa is relatively small," Muraleedharan said.

He said Indian nationals also accounted for about 93 per cent of all Employment Authorization Document issued to H-4 visa holding spouses of H-1B beneficiaries as per statistics available till December 2017.

In reply to another question, he said according to inputs received by the government, there is a concern across the global IT industry operating in the US, inter alia, over approval rates for H-1B petitions, a higher rate of rejection among IT service-focused companies and cost implications of higher scrutiny and additional requests for evidence.

 According to H-1B petition statistics of the USCIS, 84.8 per cent of the total H-1B petitions processed and completed in the Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018-September 2019) were approved, as against 95.7 per cent of the total in the Fiscal Year 2015 (October 2014-September 2015), he said.

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

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