H1B visa numbers in India go up in FY 2012
The US authorities in India are carefully looking at improving the capacity and processes of issuing L1 and H1B work permits, which are used extensively by Indian companies for their employees travelling to the US.
“The consolidation of all the blanket petitions for the L1 visas [meant for intra-company transferees] at our Chennai consulate a year ago has led to specialisation of some of our staff members in that category. We are now seeing quicker decisions and a slow and steady increase in the issuance rate of blanket L1s and lower refusal rates,” minister counsellor for consular affairs at the US Embassy in Delhi, Julia Stanley, told ET.
While the total number of L visas issued in India in financial year 2012 saw a slight decrease of a few thousand over the previous year, the number of H1Bs went up. “In the fiscal year 2012 [October 1, 2011-September 30, 2012], we issued 130,000 H category visas in India as against 114,000 issued in FY 2011,” Stanley said.
While final figures for FY 2012 are not yet available, the increase is approximately 15%. The US Department of State annual report for FY 2011 shows that worldwide (not just the five visa issuing posts in India), around 120,000 H category visas were issued to Indian nationals. This number includes both H-1B workers and their dependent children and spouses.
US businesses use H-1B visas to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialised fields, such as scientists, engineers, and IT professionals. Indian IT majors with businesses in the US have been concerned in recent months over stricter norms in issuing H category visas by the US government.