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WORKING FOR VISAS

Two-thirds of H1-B visa applications this year are from Indians

Ananya Bhattacharya
By Ananya Bhattacharya

Tech reporter

US president Donald Trump’s protectionist stance has not stopped Indians from forming the bulk of the H-1B applicants yet again this year. 

Over 67% of the total 275,000 electronic registrations for H-1B visas in fiscal year 2021 are from India, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said on April 1. The authority will now pick 85,000 from this pool through a randomised lottery.

The numbers are in keeping with previous years wherein Indians and Chinese have been the largest beneficiaries of the H-1B.

This comes amid doubts over the future of immigrant workers and their families, and even as the wait for green card becomes painfully longer.

This year’s applicants’ fates hang in the balance as coronavirus rips through the world at a menacing pace. Already, several international students have been forced to return to their home countries and H-1B workers fear layoffs. Experts, though, see no big impact on this year’s petitioners.

“Since there is no need for any personal contact between the stakeholders to file these petitions, they can be filed to reach USCIS on April 1, 2020, provided USCIS is open to receiving them,” Poorvi Chothani, managing partner at immigration law firm LawQuest, told Quartz. The start date for H-1B candidates is Oct. 1, 2020, by when the worst of the pandemic will likely be over.

However, the system itself may have thrown a spanner in the works. This is the first time the USCIS is accepting only e-registrations for H-1B. A glitch in this new process may have wrongfully denied hundreds of authentic petitioners, labelling them duplicates, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and several law firms.

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