Close to 68 percent of the H-1B registrations for FY21 were from India, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said on April 1.
After India, China is the second largest beneficiary at 13.2 percent.
"Nearly 2,75,000 unique registrations were submitted during the initial registration period. Nearly 81 percent of submitted registrations were for potential beneficiaries from India (67.7 percent) and China (13.2 percent)," USCIS statement said.
Of the total applications, roughly 46 percent of all registrations were for prospective beneficiaries with US advanced degrees.
The USCIS had earlier announced that the H1-B quota (65,000) for FY21 was over.
In addition, USCIS also issues another 20,000 H-1B visas for those who have earned Masters and higher degrees from a US institution.
The fiscal year begins from October 1, 2020,
Eligible applicants notified by the USCIS can start applying for H1-B petition from April 1, 2020.
Unlike earlier, the newly implemented H1-B Electronic Registration Process mandates the employers to register with the USCIS by March 20, after which the lottery process starts. After the lottery, the agency announces the potential beneficiaries who can start the application process.
Importance of H-1B visas
India and its tech workforce has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of H-1B visa given to highly skilled foreign workers. Given that the US accounts for about 60-80 percent of revenue for Indian IT firms, H-1B visas are important for the tech workforce.
Every year thousands of Indian IT and tech workers travel to the US. Like FY21, close to 50 percent of the H-1B quote goes to Indians, followed by the Chinese.
It would not be too much of a stretch to say, for most Indians H-1B is a passport to getting permanent residency in the US and later into citizenship. According to Census Bureau's 2018 American Community Survey (ACS), there are about 26.5 lakh Indians as of 2018, up 50 percent from 2010.
However after the Trump administration came in, there was clamp down of H-1B visa to Indians resulting in thousands of techies returning home. Number of H-1B rejections to Indian firms such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro and Cognizant increased since 2017. Visa renewals became a challenge as well since the visa holders began to get more Request for Evidence (RFE) to furnish additional documents.
New challenges due to COVID-19
The recent novel coronavirus outbreak is not help the case of H-1B visa holders either. The US has more than 2,00,000 cases with death toll amounting to 5,000 impacting all businesses.
There are already talks of layoffs and criticism against migrant workers, especially Indian H-1B visa holders. US Tech Workers, an US body representing technology workers in American, in a petition to the American President Donald Trump has asked the government to suspend both H-1B and H-2 visa, offered foreign farm workers temporarily.
"We urge you to pause the H-1B visa programme that would bring in 85,000 workers this year and suspend the recently approved addition of 35,000 workers for the H-2B visa. Overall the importation of workers should be undertaken with great caution during this period of tremendous uncertainty," said a PTI report quoting the US Tech Workers.
H-1B workers are worried
All these have made Indian H-1B workers worried as they stare at layoffs at the back of COVID-19 spread. NASSCOM is currently working with the US government to help the H-1B workers who are up for renewal. According to reports, some of the visa holders are asking the government 180 days stay instead of 60 days post their unemployment period.As per current rules, a H-1B visa holder should leave the US along with their family members within 60 days of losing their job.