Thursday, April 16, 2009

65,000 H-1B visa cap still not exhausted

NEW DELHI: The demand for H-1B Visas to work in the US has eased as concerns mount about a possible wave of protectionism, but the scene is for those with advanced American degrees who are eligible for 20,000 visas over and above the 65,000 H-1B visas issued annually.
The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) is yet to receive enough applications to exhaust the total number of H-1B visas, which are capped at 65,000 annually. However, the agency has crossed 20,000 petitions already in the advance degree category and is still accepting applications as a lot are rejected every year in this section.
“The slowdown and job losses in the US and the Employ American Workers Act, which makes it difficult for companies that have received funds under the US government’s bailout package to hire H-1B workers are the reasons behind fewer takers for H-1B visas. However, students with masters degrees and above from the US are still attractive for US employers who are finding the right kind of skills that they require. Many of these students have also interned with US companies who are now sponsoring them for their H-1Bs,” says Sudhir Shah, an immigration lawyer based in Mumbai.
Education consultants feel that US companies still need certain specialised skills and will have to hire H-1B workers and Indian students already in the US could become the first choice.

Dr Vijaya Khandavilli, international educational consultant: “Many Indian students go to the US for masters courses and PhDs in specialised areas and when they finish their employability factor is very high. Most of them have very high qualifications and because of having lived in the US, they are globally employable. It is no surprise that US employers are deciding to sponsor them for H-1B visas.” While it is too early yet for trends to emerge on the impact of the slowdown in the US on the number of students going to study there from India, the depreciation of the rupee against the dollar may hit the plans of some.
“There may not be the same kind of phenomenal growth in numbers of Indian students going to study in the US this year. While the slowdown in the corporate sector could actually provide a good opportunity for many to study further, the decline of the rupee against the dollar will make US education unaffordable,” says Ajit K Motwani, India director of Institute of International Education, the organisation that publishes Open Doors, an annual report on foreign student enrolments in the US.

No comments: