Why H-1B Visa Holders Cannot Switch Jobs So Easily

Indian workers in the United States and Indian companies based in the US as well have been experiencing lots of challenges due to the rapid changes that have been made to the H-1B visa lately.

Their application for H-1B visa extension is being denied, and the process by which holders of H-1B visa can change their jobs is becoming more strenuous.

Above all, their application for jobs has been frequently denied by the USCIS on the grounds that it does not constitute ‘a speciality occupation.’

Specific changes made to the H-1B visa include:

  • Issuance of H-1B visas to highest paying beneficiaries or most-skilled professionals only from April 2017

  • Premium processions of H-1B petitions suspended from March 2018

  • Rights to reject H-1B applications without the required information given to the USCIS as at July 2018.

  • Initiation of the deportation of holders of expired H-1B visas by the US from October 2018.

  • H-1B visa holders reviewed for ‘Specialty Occupation’ as at October 2018.

  • From January 2019, electronic registration of petitioners that are filing ‘H-1B’ subjected petitions is demanded by the USCIS.

What is the Fuss all about?

Many reforms have been made by Trump’s administration towards the issuance of H-1B visa to foreign workers.

Rules surrounding the visa have become more strict. Though the number of the visa application has decreased, there are still challenges faced by those holders who intend to switch jobs.

Also, many applications have been denied by the USCIS mostly on the excuse of ‘not a speciality occupation’, even though the new job follows the same line of profession.

The ability to switch jobs is essential for Indian workers who are awaiting green cards. For this to be accomplished, an H-1B petition for the new employer must be filed again and an extension of status sought by the holder.

The visa holder may begin working with the new employer after he/she must have finished filing, but it is advisable to wait for approval before switching. However, if the holder’s transfer or extension is denied while he/she had started working with the new employer, an ‘out of status’ label could be accorded to the holder of the visa unless the former employer rehires the holder, but the probability of such rehire is extremely low.

Also, a Request for Evidence (RFE) can now be sought for by the United States Immigration Agency, to aid them in solving any extra queries about the visa applicant.

In January, a new H-1B visa filing rule was announced in the US. The rule was to be effective as at April. The rule gives preference to advanced degree workers from US institutions. With this, the Indian IT companies have begun to hire workers from the UK markets, and this is countering the norms of hiring in India as Indian talents are no longer relied on anymore.

The Graph Depicts Exponential Changes

From a recent VisaGuide analysis, the issue of RFE has been more linked to Indian applicants compared to nationals from other countries. According to statistics, Indian applicants are 72.4% while other nationals are 61.2%.

The measures taken by the US government to create more jobs for its citizens have brought about devastating consequences on the IT Firms. In FY2018, 1896 visa rejections were faced by the TCS while Infosys faced 2122. Visa denials of about 18%, 32%, and 26% were faced by TCS, Cognizant and Infosys respectively.

Approval of H-1B visas has reduced to about 21% in the last 5 years. Due to the US government’s extreme vigilance in making sure American workers have jobs, the rate of H-1B visa approvals has decreased from 43,957 in 2017 to 22,429 in 2018, accounting to 50% cut in FY 2018.

With this terrific decline, Indians are now looking elsewhere for greener pastures.

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