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No one—not even China—can compete against India for H-1B visas

By Ananya Bhattacharya

There is simply no match for Indians’ craze for the H-1B visa.

In the financial year 2017, nearly 76% of all the H-1B petitions that were approved by the US government went to workers from India, according to official data. This was higher than the 74% of petitions procured by Indians in the previous fiscal, despite all the warning signs pointing to a clampdown on the foreign worker-visa program.

China was a distant second, representing 9.4% of all approvals, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) noted in a report, which was initially shared with US lawmakers last month and made public this week.

The H-1B visa, which allows foreign workers to live and work in the US for up to six years, attempts to fill the severe skills gap (pdf) plaguing the US. The visa category is extensively used by Indian IT firms, such as Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, and Wipro. Several Silicon Valley firms, including Amazon and Microsoft, also use the H-1B to hire foreign talent.

Since US president Donald Trump took office in 2017, H-1B visa aspirants have had to contend with a number of adverse developments, including tighter qualifying criteria, burdensome paperwork, and closer scrutiny through targeted site visits, among others. But Indians are still getting their foot in the door, clearly.