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One US visa is rejecting fewer Indians—as long as they’re “extraordinary”

People hold American flags during protests against the planned dissolution of DACA in Manhattan, New York City
Reuters/Stephen Yang
The American dream isn’t dead yet.
  • Ananya Bhattacharya
By Ananya Bhattacharya

Tech reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The Donald Trump administration is shutting the doors on Indian immigrants, but there’s one exception.

Indians applying for the O-1 visa are facing far fewer rejections than before, according to recent data (pdf) from National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), a non-profit, non-partisan. Between March and September 2017, the rejection rate for this category was just around 5%, far lower than 14.7% between October and December 2016, when Barack Obama was in office, according to NFAP.

The O-1 is a non-immigrant visa for individuals with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. It includes those with nationally or internationally recognised achievements in the motion picture or television industry. From singers Justin Bieber and Rihanna to actress Lupita Nyong’O and designer Oscar de la Renta, many celebrated immigrants live and work in the US on the O-1.

Though most O-1 recipients typically belong to the creative fields, there are instances of the visa being allotted to those making a mark in technology, banking, and other industries, too.

In the meantime, most other visa categories have seen a rise in rejection rates since Trump came to power. For H-1Bs, it went up to 23.6% in September 2017 from 16% in the previous quarter.

However, getting an O-1 is still not very easy for Indians.

The scrutiny has intensified like in the case of other categories. Indian applicants saw a sharp rise in requests for evidence (RFE), which are notices seeking more information to support the applications. RFEs often delay the visa processes and increase the costs involved.

Between July and September 2017, nearly 80% of the Indian O-1 applicants received RFEs.

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