Increase in refusal rate for Indians applying for US L-1 work visas

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There has been a decline in the approval rate for US L-1 visas for Indian professionals. New data shows that the US L-1 visa denial rate is higher in India than in any other country.

The National Foundation for American Policy has released data showing the number of L-1 visas issued to Indian nationals fell by 28 percent in the period 2010 to 2011. The data shows that L-1 visa approvals went from 35,896 in 2010 to 25,898 in 2011, a drop of approximately 10,000 visas. At the same time L-1 visas issued to employees from other countries rose by 15 percent.

"This shows an enormous gap in visas issued as well as approval/denial rates between posts in India and the rest of the world, raising policy questions as to whether this great disparity is the result of a conscious policy at US posts in India," the National Foundation for American Policy wrote in its report.

The US L-1 Visa is a non-immigrant work visa available to employees of an international company with offices in both the US and abroad. The visa allows foreign workers to relocate to the corporation's US office after having worked abroad for the company for at least one year in the last three years prior to being granted L-1 visa status.

Indian software companies send about 25,000-35,000 Indians to US on work assignments every year. Nearly 40 percent of these workers gain entry on work visas under the L-1 visa category. The high L-1 visa refusal rate would appear to indicate that visa applications made by Indian companies are under greater scrutiny than ever before. On top of this the fees for H-1B and L-1 visas have been increased. The $70 billion Indian IT sector is of great importance not just to the Indian economy but also to the US economy and the World economy in general. Making it more difficult for Indian companies to obtain US visas is likely to harm the US economy in the long term.

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