Entering the US on a H-1B work visa is becoming more difficult across the board, but workers from India are acutely feeling the effects of recent policy shifts by the Trump administration. This is according to a report published by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), a non-profit research organization based in Arlington, Virginia. The report is based on data obtained from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS. The report says that “USCIS adjudicators were much more likely to issue a Request for Evidence for applications for Indians than for people from other countries".

In the fourth quarter of FY 2017, according to the report, 72% of H-1B applications for Indians received a Request for Evidence, compared to 61% for all other countries. “Data analysed over the years show USCIS adjudicators deny more applications and issue a higher rate of Requests for Evidence for Indians on both H-1B and L-1 petitions," says the report.

Here are some other findings from the report:

- There was a 42% increase in the proportion of H-1B petitions denied for Indian-born professionals from the third to the fourth quarter of FY 2017

- In the third quarter, 16.6% of the completed H-1B cases for Indians were denied compared to 23.6% in the fourth quarter

- Similarly, there was a 40% increase in the proportion of H-1B petitions USCIS adjudicators denied for professionals from countries other than India from the third to the fourth quarter, rising from a denial rate of 14% in the third quarter to 19.6% in the fourth quarter.

Soon after Donald Trump issued the “Buy American and Hire American" presidential executive order on April 2017, says the report, USCIS started to increase both the Requests for Evidence and denials for H-1B petitions for high-skilled foreign-born professionals.

In a recent rule change, the Trump administration has given its immigration officials more power to reject H-1B visa applications outright. USCIS adjudicators will have full discretion to deny applications, petitions, and requests without first issuing a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny when required initial evidence is not submitted or the evidence of record fails to establish eligibility. This change will come into effect from 11 September.

Some Indian IT companies have already warned that increased rejection of work visa applications in key markets could drive their cost higher or delay projects.

The Indian government had earlier said that is “closely engaged" with the US on all issues relating to the movement of Indian professionals, including under the H-1B visa programme.

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