Indian workers on H-1B visas increased in 2012

Nearly two-thirds of work visas went to desis.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: The total percentage of Indian-Americans coming to the US on H-1B visas has increased this past year, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all immigrants working in the country under the H-1B visa designation.

In a newly released report from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), India received H-1B visa permits for 168,367 applicants, which equals roughly 64% of all total applicants for H-1B visas this past year. The number represents a significant increase from last year’s number of 120,762 H-1B visas, which constituted 54% of total H-1Bs granted.

The rest of the top five countries receiving H-1B visas are: China (7.6%), Canada (3.0%), the Philippines (2%), and South Korea (1.7%). The United Kingdom is sixth with 1.3%, Mexico is next at 1.2#, Japan follows with just 1%, and finally Pakistan just missed the top 10 with 0.7%.

India leads them all by a staggering amount. Not all countries have seen increases – in fact, many have seen decreases – but the rankings themselves remain the same except for Mexico and Japan swapping places over the year.

These numbers come at a time when the future of immigration, particularly for Indians and those of other Asian countries, is in question. The hotly debated Gang of Eight bill, passed by the US Senate this past June and currently being contested by the House of Representatives, would allow for more H-1B visas to be given per country, but would also drastically increase the costs of such visas for the companies requiring them to bring in workers from overseas.

For companies in the US that rely on such visas for a large portion of their workforce, such as Infosys, the increase in visa costs could prove too great, necessitating cutbacks that could keep immigrants from India out of the US.

It would also hurt the Indian economy, which expects to export as much as $87 billion of IT services by the end of March 2014. The Indian economy is already reeling from numerous economic setbacks; just today, the rupee hit an all-time low against the US dollar of 64.13. Indian IT companies in recent months have ramped up lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill in order to curtail support of the Gang of Eight bill.

The DHS report indicates that 262,569 applicants in total were granted H-1B visas, a decrease from last year’s number of 269,563.

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