Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

US eases H-1B visa restrictions during Modi's visit: What you need to know

Indians who work in the US on an H-1B visa will no longer have to travel overseas to renew their work visas, the Biden administration said. This move could help thousands of Indian professionals

Published: Jun 23, 2023 04:16:10 PM IST
Updated: Jun 23, 2023 04:34:04 PM IST

US eases H-1B visa restrictions during Modi's visit: What you need to knowDuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit, the US government has also announced new rules for H-1B visa renewals Image: Shutterstock
 
Amid significant trade deals and agreements signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit, the US government has also announced new rules for H-1B visa renewals, which will likely benefit thousands of Indians.
 
Typically, the H-1B visa is issued for three years at a time, as it is a temporary, non-immigrant visa that allows American companies to hire skilled professionals from overseas. Top tech companies use the H-1B for technical positions, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and others. Every year, Indians form the largest cohort of H-1B holders. In 2021, for instance, Indians were issued 74.1 percent of the total 301,616 H-1B visas issued in the year. In 2022, Indians made up nearly 73 percent of the total 4.42 lakh H-1B visa workers.
 

With the new rules, H-1B visa holders can renew their visas within the US itself. Until now, foreign workers would have to exit the country, and in most cases, visit their home country, to get the H-1B visa extension stamp on their passports. This was inconvenient for both the workers as well as their employers, and visa wait times were stretching to as long as two years.
 
The US announcement came just before Modi and President Joe Biden’s bilateral meeting.
 
The US has also agreed to another Indian demand, for changes to the H-1 and L visa processes.
 
“The United States Department of State is going to launch a pilot to adjudicate domestic renewals of certain petition-based temporary work visas later this year, including for Indian nationals, with the intent to implement this for an expanded pool of H-1 and L visa holders,” a senior Biden administration official said, according to a PTI report.
 
“The programme would be eventually broadened to include other eligible categories. It is good for people in India, good for people in the United States, really good for our businesses,” the official added.

US eases H-1B visa restrictions during Modi's visit: What you need to know
 

Who is eligible for the H-1B visa?

  • The H-1B visa is employer-sponsored and gives the holder non-immigrant status. It is temporary, usually lasting three years
  • The employer must apply for the visa on behalf of the employee, proving that their occupation and position require specialised knowledge and skills
  • Professions in engineering, biology, physical sciences, mathematics and business administration are typically awarded H-1B status
  • Since it is a temporary visa, there is always uncertainty of whether your employer will renew it, and a has been a big cause of stress for Indian professionals in the US