From the moment that US President Donald Trump signed the ‘Buy America, Hire America’ order in 2018, it became apparent that it would become more difficult for those immigrants already living and working in the US to continue to do so long-term. This has now started to result in dire consequences for many Indian IT specialists, commonly referred to as Techies.
H-1B: The US Visa to Work in the US
Indian techies living and working in the US are usually permitted to do so because of the conditions of their H-1B visa, the US visa most commonly held by immigrant employees. The H-1B visa allows holders to remain in the US for a period of 3 years with a possibility of another 3-year extension. In the past, this has meant that many huge Indian technology firms, whose headquarters are in the US, have been able to employ teams of qualified Indian techies to give the right support to their businesses.
Over the last several months, thousands of Indian techie visa extensions have been rejected, leading to real struggles for the employees to remain in the US. If an extension is denied, immigrants can apply for another visa but many are having trouble filing for new visas too. As a result of this, many Indians are finding themselves with no choice but to return to their home country.
What is RFE in Reference to US Visa Extensions?
When visa extension applications are made, some can be approved directly while others may find that they need to supply extra documentation for their visa extension to be considered and thus, for applicants to be able to work in the US. This is referred to as RFE: Requests For Evidence.
In addition to the rise in denied US visa extension applications, there has also been a sharp increase in the demand for RFE upon application reviews. This, in turn, further delays the process of receiving the visa, with economic consequences. If a visa to work in the USA takes more time to process, or further documentation is requested, such as in many of these cases, the costs of the entire process also increase.
Generally speaking, the chances of having RFE applications approved are very low and many who are in this position choose to simply return to India as opposed to going through this extra struggle, which could cost dearly.
In just the last year, the time it takes to complete a US visa extension application for those already working in the US has risen by 2 months, taking the total processing time to 5 months.
In addition to the difficulty of securing the right US visa to work in the USA, the average time it takes for an Indian citizen to receive a green card is approximately 10 years.
US Jobs for US Citizens
Many believe that this is happening due to the new slogan and immigration regime implemented in recent years by the Trump Administration. However, experts also say that this is nothing new for many US-based firms who rise in US visa rejections employ immigrants with US work visas.
Unfortunately, the has taken its toll on the five biggest Indian technology companies in America this year and thus has become a problem both for many immigrant workers as well as the companies who employ them.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has stated that H-1B visa processing has resumed since April 1, 2019, however, for the time being, there has been no change in the dramatic rise in rejected applications and extensions.
Other US Visas for Consideration
If you’re interested in traveling to the US for other purposes than work, the case for visa applications has not been affected by new immigration laws.
Applying online for an ESTA for the USA is simple, fast, and unlikely to be refused if your aim is to travel to the US for tourism purposes.
The US ESTA application is easy to complete and takes approximately 15 minutes to fill out online with basic personal information such as name, date of birth, passport or travel document information. Applicants must also answer some simple security questions regarding health and travel history.
Unlike other US visa applications, the ESTA is 100% online and approved travel visa waivers are then sent to the applicant electronically via email. For work visas, individuals will need to check the requirements for their nationality and apply through the traditional means.