US Proposes H-1B Visa Changes to Stop Indian Body Shop Fraud

The Biden administration has proposed a number of significant changes to how the H-1B temporary work visas are issued to high-skilled foreign workers. These changes are the result of the government finding earlier this year that companies, particularly Indian body shops, had colluded to try to increase their chances of winning a coveted visa by gaming the visa lottery system. This has helped Indian workers win as many as three quarters of all H1B visas issued in recent years. 

H1B Visas Issued in India. Source: Visagrader.com

Every year, applicants sponsored by Indian body shops claim the lion's share of H1B visas. In 2022, Indian nationals received 166,384 new H1B visas, accounting for nearly three quarters of all such visas issued by the US government. The figures reported as India IT exports include the wages earned by millions of Indian H1B workers in the United States.  

Public interest groups have been complaining about the behavior of Indian body shops gaming the system to take away a big chunk of the H1B visas issued each year. Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is one such group. In a report last year, FAIR said, "In fact, the H-1B lottery as currently constituted is a corrupt program dominated by Indian “body shops” that prey on desperate foreign workers looking for a light at the end of the tunnel: a green card. A bustling industry of lawyers and lobbyists advertises ways to improve players’ “chances of success.”"

“Because [USCIS] made it easier, you’re seeing an over-exaggerated demand, mostly from Indian outsourcing companies that provide lower-cost labor,” Roger Ross, a policy adviser for U.S. Tech Workers, told FAIR in a phone interview. 

Top 10 Recipient Countries of H-1B Visas. Source: USCIS

H-1B rejection rates of around 7% for India and other nations are after the lottery selection, according to Visagrader. The problem is that Indian body shops are gaming the lottery system by multiple entries for each of their applicants to win the lottery in huge numbers, unfairly edging out applicants from other countries.

In 2022-23, thirteen of the top 30 H-1B employers were Indian outsourcing firms that underpay migrant workers and offshore U.S. jobs to countries where labor costs are much lower, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute

Top 30 H1B Employers in 2022-23. Source: EPI

Last year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) for petitions filed by companies they found related by common ownership such as family relationships or registrations done by the same agent. 

The most significant change to the H1B visa system involves the elimination of multiple entries by employers on behalf of the same employee. In 2023, over half of the approximately 800,000 H-1B registrations were multiple entries, artificially inflating the chances of some applicants, according to an Indian news outlet NDTV's report. Under the proposed new rules, an employee can only be registered once, and employers will now be required to submit passport information for each employee. This allows the USCIS to ensure a fair and equitable selection process. Violation of this rule will lead to denials or revocations of visas. 

Other changes involve elimination of "employer-employee" relationship for H1B visa (entrepreneurs can sponsor themselves) and eligibility of remote work for job offers, extension of the "cap-gap" provision for international students on F-1 visa to receive H1B visa, more on-site inspections for IT consulting work and stricter definition of "specialty occupation". 

Currently, India tops the list of foreign-born STEM workers with 721,000, followed by China (273,000), Mexico (119,000), Vietnam (100,000), Philippines (87,000), South Korea (64,000), Canada (56,000), Taiwan (53,000), Russia (45,000) and Pakistan (35,000).  Enormous number of Indian STEM workers in the United States can at least partly be attributed to the fact that India's "body shops" have mastered the art of gaming the US temporary work visa system. Last year, Indian nationals sponsored by "body shops" like Cognizant, Infosys and TCS received 166,384 H1B visas for work in the United States. By comparison, only 1,107 Pakistanis were granted H1B visas in Fiscal Year 2022.  In addition to H1B work visas, 9,300 Indian nationals and 7,200 Pakistani nationals received immigrant visas to settle in the United States as permanent residents in 2021. 

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Comment by Riaz Haq on October 28, 2023 at 7:52am

3059 Indians held while attempting to enter US from Canada in September

https://www.newindiaabroad.com/news/3059-indians-held-while-attempt...

Among those arrested were four unaccompanied children, four other children accompanied by family members.

In September of this year, a total of 8,076 individuals of Indian origin were apprehended by United States law enforcement agencies as they attempted to enter the country illegally through various routes. Notably, 3,059 of these individuals were detained at the U.S.-Canada border, according to data provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Indian arrests at the U.S.-Canada border mark the highest monthly total between October 2022 and September 2023.

According to The Times of India, a source said, “Many illegal immigrants, primarily from Gujarat, have either settled in Canada or are awaiting an opportunity to enter the US. In August, 2,327 illegal immigrants were caught trying to cross over to the US. This number rose to 3,059 in September.”

Among those arrested were four unaccompanied children, four other children accompanied by family members, and 530 children with their parents and siblings. Additionally, a total of 2,521 single adults were apprehended. It's worth noting that Indians attempting to enter the U.S. unlawfully typically do so via the U.S.-Mexico border. According to official data, between February 2019 and March of this year, U.S. law enforcement agencies arrested a total of 190,000 individuals of Indian origin.

Efforts by Indians to engage in illegal migration to the U.S. persist, even though there have been numerous tragic incidents in which several families lost their lives during these hazardous journeys.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 30, 2023 at 4:28pm

Indians Are Entering the U.S. Illegally in Record Numbers


https://www.wsj.com/world/india/indians-are-entering-the-u-s-illega...


Some asylum seekers say Modi’s Hindu nationalist policies are driving them out, while others are drawn by job opportunities

Roughly 42,000 migrants from India have crossed the southern border illegally during the fiscal year starting last October through September, according to data compiled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That is more than double the number from the same period the prior year, when crossings by Indians hit a historic high. An additional 1,600 have crossed from the northern border illegally—four times the number who crossed in the last three years combined.

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After the second time Arshdeep Singh, a supporter of a Sikh political party in Punjab, was threatened by men he believed were affiliated with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, his father made arrangements for him to leave the country.

Singh’s 40-day journey this past summer from his village in Punjab, in northern India, to Fresno, Calif., was guided by voices of men he had never met on a cellphone. Every few days, they sent him digital boarding passes of his flights and instructions on where to meet the next local smuggler.

The 23-year-old is one of the record number of asylum seekers from India who are traveling across the world to the U.S.-Mexico border and contributing to the struggles the Biden administration is facing in curbing the surge in illegal border crossings.

Roughly 42,000 migrants from India have crossed the southern border illegally during the fiscal year starting last October through September, according to data compiled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That is more than double the number from the same period the prior year, when crossings by Indians hit a historic high. An additional 1,600 have crossed from the northern border illegally—four times the number who crossed in the last three years combined.

Since 2007, the total number of illegal border crossings by Indians in a fiscal year has exceeded 5,000 only four times. Indians nearly all turn themselves in to Border Patrol, rather than being arrested while evading capture, because they want to ask for asylum in the U.S.

Singh said he flew from New Delhi to Hungary, where he was kept in a small room for 10 days and given a few pieces of bread and some water. From there, he flew to France, then to Mexico City, where he said he was locked in a room for another week. After another flight and a long bus ride, a man in a pickup truck closed the distance to the U.S. border, he said.

He crossed into California, starving and weak, and was taken to a processing center where he saw several others who had made a similar journey from his home state. “The path here turned out to be just as dangerous as it had been for me to stay in Punjab,” he said.

A combination of factors has led to the significant jump in migrants crossing the U.S. border illegally from India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist policies are driving out some residents. Success stories from those who have made the trip and found jobs are circulating on social media and acting as a draw. There has also been an influx of smugglers masquerading as travel agents across villages, especially in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana.

Administration officials say migration from India and other countries outside the Western Hemisphere has made it more difficult to stem the flow of illegal entries at the U.S. border. The U.S.’s lack of established relationships with those countries on immigration makes it slower and more expensive to deport those migrants.

Overall, arrests for illegal border crossings surpassed two million at the end of the 2023 fiscal year, making it only the second time they have crossed that mark. The first time was in 2022.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 31, 2023 at 8:32pm

Social Realities of Indian Americans: Results From the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

https://carnegieendowment.org/2021/06/09/social-realities-of-indian...


Thirty percent of non-citizen IAAS respondents possess a green card (or a permanent residency card), which places them on a pathway to gaining U.S. citizenship. Twenty-seven percent are H-1B visa holders, a visa status for high-skilled or specialty workers in the United States that has historically been dominated by the technology sector. On average, an H-1B visa holder reports living in the United States for eight years, although 36 percent of H-1B beneficiaries report spending more than a decade in the country (that is, they arrived before 2010). Eighteen percent of non-citizens reside in the United States on an H-4 visa, a category for immediate family members of H-1B visa holders. Fourteen percent of non-citizens are on F-1, J-1, or M-1 visas—categories of student or scholar visas—while another 5 percent hold an L-1 visa, a designation available to employees of an international company with offices in the United States. A small minority of non-citizen respondents—6 percent—claim some other visa status.

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The overwhelming majority of Hindus with a caste identity—more than eight in ten—self-identify as belonging to the category of General or upper caste.

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