Many American businesses may have to cope without Indian migrant workers if US visa denial rates continue to rise.
14 February 2012
Report claims Indian discrimination in US visa applications
A recent study by an American policy research institution has claimed that the rate of denial for Indian migrants applying for a US visa is disproportionately high and rising.
The report, from the National Foundation for American Policy, a bipartisan public body, revealed the rate of denial for applications in the L-1 and H-1B classes of US visa rose from less than 3% in 2008 to 22.5% in 2009, with more denials in 2009 than the nine previous years combined.
Comparatively, the rate of denial for applications from Canada rose from just 2% to 2.9% and the rate of denial for applications from China jumped from 2% to almost 6% in the same period; the rates remained consistently low for applicants from France, Germany and the UK.
Analysts have pointed to the trend's coincidence with President Barack Obama's term in office. President Obama pledged to avoid outsourcing as a means to save money, instead trying to concentrate efforts on creating more US jobs. Many have claimed however, that skilled migrants are suffering the most with seven of the top 10 companies reliant on the L-1 visa category based in India.
The issue has raised sufficient concern within India for the Indian foreign secretary, Ranjan Mathai to comment on the US immigration policy, labelling it a 'non-tariff barrier' and simply a way for the US government to charge expensive visa fees, only to turn them down.
The report cited over $200 million (£127 million) that has been spent on visa fees by Indian applicants in the last five years, with an estimated $30-50 million spent by applicants who were unsuccessful. The US Congress also further raised visa fees by $2,000 (£1,270) in 2010.
The report also claimed Indian professionals within the IT industry have contributed $15 billion (£9.5 billion) in taxes to the US economy as well as created 100,000 jobs in the same period, prompting many to highlight the risk of excluding Indian migrants.
US immigration policy has faced increased debate in recent weeks with stricter laws implemented in Arizona and Alabama, the Republican Nominee race and President Barack Obama's efforts to streamline the visa application process.
While it's unlikely any major changes will be made during an election year, politicians advocating both tougher and more lenient measures will have to contend with the fact that many American businesses have relied on outsourcing to continue trading.
The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.