India hit hard by new US Visa restrictions

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India hit hard by new US Visa restrictions

WASHINGTON - India has been hit hard by the new US H 1B Visa restrictions imposed by the Trump administration.

US has announced early closure of the period for American companies to file petitions to hire foreign workers for speciality positions under H-1B visas, used in large numbers by Indian firms and professionals. This cycle is for those starting work in 2019.

The H-1B filing and clearing process is being closely followed this year as petitions are expected to face unprecedented scrutiny because of the many changes introduced by the Trump administration to prevent the programme from being used to displace American workers.

Questions are being raised if filings may drop as a result, as they did in 2017, the first year of President Donald Trump in office. Indian companies, at least, have cut back on their applications and are ramping up their hirings locally in the US.

US Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS), which runs the programme, said in a statement on Friday that it had “reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2019 … (and) also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa US advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap”.

There is a cap of 85,000 on the number of H-1B visas that can be issued every year. But the agency has received several times more petitions in the past years, forcing it to close the process early, mostly on the fifth day after opening the process. It started past Monday for 2019 (the process starts a year before its beneficiaries join their employers).

An early cap has been reached every year since 2013, in five days in every instance.