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India Faces Highest Denial Rate for L1-B Visa

Posted on April 22, 2014
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The denial rate for the L1-B visa for Indians has increased by an alarming rate, according to a recent study conducted by The National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP).  The L1-B is a “non immigrant” visa, granting work permit in the U.S. to individuals with specialized knowledge in fields of technology, medicine etc.

Although there is no specific reason for this trend observed, Lynden Melmed the former chief counsel at United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has stated that “A company is going to be unwilling to invest in a manufacturing facility in the U.S. if it does not know whether it can bring its own employees into the country to ensure its success.”

The statistics given in the NFAP policy brief clearly states that although the rejection limit for other countries is also high, it is nowhere close to India. India experienced an increase in denial rate of 22% since 2008 as compared to countries like China, France and Germany whose denial rates varied from 4.1-5.9%. There was no change made in the laws and regulation during this time and yet there was a constant and steady increase in the denial of visa given to Indians. It is also ironical that while there was a drop in the percentage of Indians who were granted the U.S. visa there was an increase in approval by 15% granted to other countries.

Although the exclusivity of this visa cannot be ruled out it is hard to believe that lack of specialization skills among Indians becomes a reason for the refusal of granting the visa.  A newsletter published by International Law Office stated the grievances of employers in the U.S. who are also affected by the unreasonable sifting of applicants.

Organizations are unclear about which cases will be passed and which will be denied access, preventing them to go ahead with their plans. The evidences for L1-B petitions also require the individuals to hold a patent and even after that some are rejected.

Sometimes a consular officer or adjudicator holds a belief that a particular company should not have more than three or four people with specialized knowledge working for it. This logic is however irrational in nature because there is no statute or regulation which limits the number of employees having special skills in a company. Moreover in an organization employing thousands of people to work for product lines, it would be unreasonable to employ only a handful of people with special knowledge on a particular area.

The NFAP policy also states how it is not only India which has been singled out but other countries too face similar consequences. It is transparent from the data that while other foreign nationals have experienced an increase in denial rates for L1-B visa starting in the year 2009, the rates where far lesser to that of Indian nationals.

The drop in immigration permission effects software and IT companies like Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services the most, as they are unable to send their competent employees abroad.

There also arises a counter argument in support of the U.S. government where the acceptance or denial of settlement claims can directly be mapped on to the economy and safety of the nation. It also brings issues of home labor in the forefront where foreigners get more job opportunities than the U.S. citizens themselves. However these allegations fall short because they fail to justify why the percentage increase of Indians migrating to U.S. are especially higher than to that of other countries.

The USCIS had also promised in 2012 to lay down new guidelines to clarify the standards for establishing specialized knowledge. However these guidelines are yet to be issued and hence they continue to be ambiguous in nature.

Jade Ray

15 Apr 2014

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