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Navigating H-1B VISA Changes: What Indian Graduates Need to Know

Will the rising cost of H-1B visa impact Indian IT Professionals?

Indian graduates in the US often secure the most in-demand roles in the American job market due to their specialized skills, training, and tech-enabled expertise. Their employment frequently occurs through the H-1B visa – a coveted work permit used by US-based companies to hire foreign-born talent, including scientists, architects, engineers, and IT professionals. In addition to US companies, several Indian technology service providers like TCS and Infosys also sponsor H-1B visas for their employees to serve US-based clients. There are also other types of visas used by sponsors, such as the L-1 visa for transferring employees from their foreign offices to the US.

As the US government is contemplating changes in fee rules and eligibility criteria for the H-1B visa yet again, it’s crucial for you to consider the potential consequences for American employers, existing and aspiring Indian IT professionals, and Indian tech service providers.

If you are planning to study in the US or are a recent graduate exploring job prospects in the land of Microsoft and Google, it’s essential to understand the H-1B visa, the proposed changes to the visa, and the overall impact on your career prospects if these changes are implemented.

What is a H-1B Visa?

The H-1B visa also known as the ‘working visa’ is the most sought-after temporary work visa that allows working professionals across the globe to live and work in the US for a stipulated period of time. Also, international students undergoing optional practical training (OPT) in the US can avail of this visa by finding an employer who can petition for the ‘working visa’. 

The H-1B visa is an employment visa that is sponsored by employees to fill in vacancies or positions that require a greater level of theoretical and practical understanding of the related fields.

Indians are the largest holders of the H1-B visa. Indian students graduating in STEM fields from the US can live and work in the US for three years on OPT and they aspire to transfer to a H-1B visa.

What are the Proposed Changes in H-1B Visa Rule?

The proposed changes to the H-1B visa will be effected at two levels

  1. Visa fee structure
  2. Eligibility criteria

How will the H-1B Visa Become Costly?

H-1B Visa Free Structure Change

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and US Customs and Border Protection (CBS) have proposed additional fees during visa extension request by employers.

Proposed Visa Extension Costs

  • 4000 US dollars for extending an H-1B visa
  • 4500 US dollars for extending an L-1 visa

In essence, the cost of hiring foreign talent will increase considerably for sponsoring companies, assuming if the default 3-year validity of the H-1B visa needs to be extended for a given employee.  

The USCIS implemented a series of fee hikes to the H-1B on April 1,2024. While the registration fees increased from $10 to $215, the application fee was hiked from $460 to $780. Moreover, an additional fee slab known as asylum fee was added to the H-1B. The current fee structure applies to initial visa processing only with no added cost to the proposed employment extension fees.

Existing and Proposed Criteria for H-1B Extension

Prevailing Rule

As per the prevailing rule extension fees is applicable to the following cases only

  • Companies with more than 50 employees
  • More than half of the employees are on H-1B or L-1

Proposed Rule

As per the proposed rule extension fees will be applicable to

  • All companies applying for H-1B or L-1 visa extensions

What is the Objective for Proposing Additional Fees?

The additional fees to be charged when employers extend visas for their employees would be used toward the following purposes.

  • Enhancing the biometric entry and exit system
  • Ensuring that every employer contributes toward national security

H-1B Eligibility Criteria Change

According to a recent analysis by HolonIQ, a global research firm, Indian students are projected to dominate US enrolment over the next 10 years. This trend is underscored by a significant 63% increase in Indian graduate enrolment in 2023 compared to the previous year.

The strengthening Indo-US ties have contributed to a favourable environment for Indian students pursuing higher education in the US. Revisions in immigration policies and the implementation of more welcoming student policies have made the US a safe and attractive destination.

In addition to offering a diverse array of master’s degrees—from finance to computer science—that align closely with job market demands, especially in competitive fields like STEM, US universities are renowned for their quality education. For instance, universities such as Lehigh University not only provide need-based financial aid but also offer merit-based scholarships specifically tailored for Indian students. Remarkably, Lehigh University boasts a high 98% employment rate for its international graduates.

Furthermore, unlike the traditional route that could take years to secure a Green Card, recent proposals and initiatives aim to streamline this process, potentially providing quicker pathways for Indian students and professionals to establish permanent residency in the US. These factors highlight the US as an increasingly promising destination for Indian students seeking quality education, career opportunities, and a supportive academic environment conducive to their personal and professional growth.

The Potential Impact of the Proposed Rule Change on US Based Employers  

  • The employment extension (visa) fees may prove to be expensive for US employers
  • Attracting foreign talent with specialized skills may get expensive.
  • Indian IT companies operating out of the US like Infosys and TCS may have to incur additional cost while deputing Indian IT professionals

The Potential Impact of the Proposed Rule Change on Indian IT Professionals in the US 

  • Indian IT professionals may have to deal with mismatch between job specialty and degree requirement, as a result may not be eligible for the H-1B
  • There is a possibility that many skilled Indian professionals will be excluded due to the ‘degree in a directly related field’ clause
  • Thousands of Indian IT professional seeking employment opportunities in the US could be affected as Indians are the largest H-1B visa holders

What is the Status of the H-1B Visa Rule Change Proposal? 

The regulations that were to be implemented by the Department of Homeland Security in October 2023 are currently under public review and feedback.  One has to wait till July 8, 2024 to know about public opinion.

With over two decades of expertise in study abroad counseling, Collegepond has facilitated thousands of admissions across US universities. Beyond preparing our students to excel in competitive environments, we closely monitor the US labor market and immigration processes, particularly concerning F-1 (student visa) and H-1B (work permit) visas, for the benefit of our US-based students and alumni network.

Despite proposed immigration restrictions and fee hikes, there remains a significant skills gap in the US that is expected to widen, especially in specialized fields supporting emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI.

We aim to provide perspective on recent developments. Many industry observers in the US view the series of H-1B fee hikes as aimed at limiting Indian IT companies’ access to the H-1B visa program. While this poses risks for Indian IT service providers in terms of potential business losses, any drastic measures could also impact the broader US economy.

The proposed fee hikes could lead to two potential outcomes:

  1. A decrease in H-1B visa applications over time.
  2. Indian companies may continue absorbing costs to maintain service for their US-based clients.

Public feedback will play a crucial role in addressing the existing immigration policy challenges and shaping the future of the H-1B visa program. Any policy decisions based on this feedback are likely to occur only after the US presidential elections in November 2024. It will be important to monitor how USCIS’ policies are deliberated by the US government. The USCIS aims to balance promoting favorable policies to attract the best foreign talent with implementing necessary immigration regulations. The outcome of these discussions will become clearer after the election results in November 2024.

If you’re considering graduate studies in the US, rest assured — we’re here to assist you every step of the way. Our expert career counselors will guide you in selecting the universities that best align with your goals and aspirations. These institutions offer pathways to exciting career opportunities, backed by structured graduate hiring programs at major companies such as Amazon and Dell, providing extensive prospects for international students.

Take the initial step towards an extraordinary career by scheduling a free consultation with us. We’ll evaluate your profile and tailor a personalized career path to ensure your success.

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Address: Office No. 204, 2nd Floor, ML Spaces, Dashrathlal Joshi Rd. Opp. Old Jain Mandir, Vile Parle West, Mumbai – 400056.


Email: info@collegepond.com


Call Us:  022-46003655


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Copyright © 2002 – 2024 | All Rights Reserved | Collegepond Counsellors Pvt. Ltd.