Huge spike in Indian US work visa web searches under Trump

Sanwar Ali comment:

Indian companies and Indian nationals have found it more difficult to obtain US work visas since Trump came to power.  It is therefore not surprising that more Indians worried about US visa related issues are doing searches on the Indeed job site, probably the most popular job site in the World.   The options for work visas in the US are somewhat limited.  Probably for many Indians the only options are the H1B visa and L1 visa.  Green Cards will take years in processing time.  The processing time for Indians is particularly long.  EB5 Immigrant Investor visas for wealthy Indians also take a long time.  

One of the leading job portals, Indeed.com, has reported a huge spike in the number of Indians using search terms such as ‘US work visa’, ‘H1B visa’, ‘H2B visa’, ‘immigration visa’, ‘immigrant visa’, ‘employment visa’ and more to search for US job listings.

According to Indeed’s data, between September 2017 and September 2018, there was a 673% increase in US visa-related searches. A spokesperson for Indeed attributed the spike to 2018 US immigration policy changes by the Trump administration, which made it even more difficult to obtain US work visas across all categories, including H1B and L1 visas.

Most US visa-related searches outside the US

Indeed found that while some of the visa-related searches came from within the US – most likely to be students or working professionals looking to change jobs – the majority of searches came from other countries. According to data up to August 2019, the number of searches outside the US had nearly doubled compared to 2017.

In November 2018, the percentage of international US visa-related searches peaked at 88.2%. One in five of the searches came from India.

H1B and L1 visa categories tightened affecting Indians and other nationals

Since Trump officially took office in January 2016, the H1B visa category, along with other US visa schemes, has been subjected to tighter restrictions. The H1B visa allows foreign nationals to live and work in the US for up to six years, but rejection rates have soared under Trump, with baseless reasons often given for refusals.

Recently, there were rumours that the Trump administration was planning to restrict the share of H1B visas granted to Indians to between 10% and 15%.

The number of L1 visa refusal rates also continues to rise under Trump, again, largely affecting Indians.

According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data, fewer L1 visa intracompany transfer applications were approved by the government agency in its 2019 financial year.

Some analysts have mostly attributed the continued decline in L1A and L1B visa approvals to incorrect documentation submitted by US visa applicants. However, in reality it is very difficult to know for sure how to meet the requirements for the L1 visa category.

USCIS figures show that in FY19, 71% of L1A and L1B visa applications were approved – a decline compared to FY18 – when 77.8% of applications were successful. The USCIS financial year runs from October to September of the following year.

The US L1 visa is most commonly used by tech firms - mainly Indian companies with operations based in America – to transfer employees to the US from other countries. The L1 visa category is also used by small businesses to establish a company in the US.

US visa-related searches from the UK

Second to Indians using US visa-related searches on Indeed.com were nationals from the UK. According to Indeed’s data the UK’s share of visa-related searches on its site reached an average of 8.8% in 2018.

The top 10 non-US countries with a share of visa-related searches on Indeed on average in 2018, includes:

  • India – 22%
  • UK – 8.8%
  • Philippines – 5.6%
  • South Africa – 3.7%
  • Russia – 3.6%
  • Pakistan – 3.3%
  • Canada – 3%
  • Nigeria – 2.4%
  • United Arab Emirates – 2.1%
  • Bangladesh – 2%

Indeed’s data shows that in September 2018 alone, nearly 20 million US visa-related searches were made on its jobs portal.

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