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TILTED SCALES

What visa woes? Indians are still hogging most H-1Bs

By Ananya Bhattacharya

The Donald Trump administration may be going tough on H-1B visa allocation. But there’s no stopping Indians from working in the US.

Of the nearly 420,000 foreign nationals working on H-1B visas as of Oct. 05, nearly three in four were from India, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said in a recent report. The data includes the figures for both fresh and continuing employment.

China is a distant second with under 50,000.

For many years, Indian IT outsourcing firms like Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services have been heavily reliant on bringing talent from India to the US. And though they are trying to beef up local hiring amid rising hostility towards immigrant workers, Silicon Valley giants like Amazon still continue to hire scores of Indian techies since their demand for talent far outstrips the available supply domestically.

However, India’s strong lead may weaken over the next few years as the Trump administration redefines what makes for a specialty occupation—a prerequisite for the H-1B. Most Indians are brought in at entry-level positions. “H-1B workers that aren’t super-specialists and unique in their skill set will likely get excluded and not be able to get H-1B visas,” said Vivek Tandon, CEO and founder of immigration firm EB5 BRICS. “This will deter more and more Indian nationals from pursuing H-1B visas.”

No country for women

USCIS data also showed a gaping gender disparity among Indians who hold the H-1B visa. Nearly 80% of the beneficiaries from the country as of earlier this month were men.

Comparatively, the rest of the top five recipient nations were more evenly split between the two genders. The Philippines, in fact, skewed more towards women.