Easier Visa Renewal for Indians in the US, Boosting India-US Ties
In a significant move that strengthens India-US ties, the Joe Biden administration in the United States has announced measures to make it easier for Indians to live and work in the country. This development comes in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the US. The State Department has revealed that a small number of Indians and other foreign workers holding H-1B visas will now be able to renew their visas within the US without the need to travel abroad.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa category that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialised occupations. Annually, the US government issues 65,000 H-1B visas to corporations, which are valid for three years and can be renewed for an additional three years.
According to a report by India Today’s Data Intelligence Unit (DIU), over the past decade, Indians have consistently received over 60 percent of H-1B visa approvals each year. In 2013, out of approximately 2.86 lakh H-1B visas approved, more than 1.87 lakh visas were granted to Indians, representing a significant 65.3 percent approval rate. Since then, the number of Indians with H-1B visas has been steadily increasing.
However, there was a decline in approved visas for Indians in 2018 and 2019, with approximately 2.43 lakh and 2.78 lakh visas approved, respectively. The trend reversed in FY 2020, witnessing a 3.2 percent increase in H-1B visa approvals, with Indians receiving about 3.19 lakh visas out of the total 4.26 lakh visas approved globally. The latest data from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (FY 2022) indicates that 72.6 percent of H-1B visas were issued to Indians, with over 3.20 lakh out of more than 4.41 lakh petitions approved.
Notable companies utilising H-1B workers include Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, Amazon, Alphabet, and Meta, according to US government data.
In contrast to the H-1B visa, the situation for student visas in the US has been different. Student visas include the F1 visa, the M1 visa, and the J1 visa. Data from the US Department of State reveals that in 2013, only 43 thousand petitions, accounting for just five percent of student visas, were approved for Indian students, while nearly 8.58 lakh petitions were approved globally.
However, there has been a positive shift in recent years. In 2017, 7.1 percent of US student visas were granted to Indians. In FY 2021 and 2022, there was a notable increase in Indian students receiving US visas. In 2021, more than 85,000 Indian students were granted US visas out of almost 5 lakh globally, accounting for a share of over 17.4 percent. The following year saw a further rise, with a total of 1.26 lakh Indian students receiving student visas out of a total of 7 lakh, resulting in an 18 percent share.
Open Work Permit in Canada
Canada has announced a new “Open Work Permit Stream” that allows 10,000 H-1B visa holders from the United States to work in Canada. This initiative could benefit thousands of Indian technical professionals. Canada has been playing a leading role in emerging technologies, and it hopes that professionals affected by significant cutbacks from US companies will be attracted to its program. The Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Sean Fraser, stated that the Canadian government will establish an “Open Work Permit Stream” by July 16, which will enable 10,000 American H-1B visa holders to work in Canada.
Furthermore, the programme will also grant study or work permits to the families of these employees. According to CBC News, Fraser mentioned that the government will develop a stream by the end of this year for some of the world’s most talented individuals who can come to Canada to work in technical companies. However, he did not specify the eligibility criteria or the number of individuals who would be admitted through this stream.
The easier visa renewal process for Indians in the US, along with Canada’s initiative to welcome H-1B visa holders, provides significant benefits to skilled professionals and their families. These measures not only strengthen the bond between India and the US but also open doors for opportunities and growth in the technological sector, ensuring a positive and collaborative relationship between the two nations.