Nearly half of H1B visa holders are from India: US report

Lalit K Jha

Washington, Jan 15 (PTI) Nearly half of H-1B work visaholders in the US were from India, who were mostly hired fortechnology-related positions, according to an official report.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said thatbetween 2000 and 2009, 46.9 per cent of the total approvedH-1B visa holders had India as their country of birth.

"Between fiscal year 2000 and fiscal year 2009, themajority of approved H-1B workers (initial and extensions forboth employers subject to the cap and cap-exempt employers)were born in Asia," said the report titled ''H-1B VisaProgramme: Reforms are needed to minimise the risks and costsof current programme''.

"Over the last decade, the top four countries of birthfor approved H-1B workers were India, China, Canada and thePhilippines. Across all 10 years, about 64 per cent ofapproved H-1B workers were born in these four countries, withthe largest group from India," it added.

Although information on the total H-1B workforce islacking, data on approved petitions show that, since 2000,most people that were approved to be H-1B workers were born inChina or India, were hired for technology positions andincreasingly held advanced degrees, it said.

"Using publicly available data on H-1B-hiring employerswe learnt that at least 10 of the top 85 H-1B-hiring employersin fiscal year 2009 participate in staffing arrangements, ofwhich at least 6 have headquarters or operations located inIndia," the report said.

"Together, in fiscal year 2009, these 10 employersgarnered nearly 11,456 approvals, or about 6 per cent of allH-1B approvals. Further, 3 of these employers were among thetop 5 H-1B-hiring companies, receiving 8,431 approvals amongthem," it said.

The H1B cap for 2011 quota is 65,000 for generalcategory.

To ensure that the H-1B programme continues to meet theneeds of businesses in a global economy while maintaining abalance of protections for US workers, the report recommendsthat the Congress may wish to consider reviewing the meritsand shortcomings of key programme provisions and makingappropriate changes as needed.

Such a review may include, but would not necessarily belimited to the qualifications required for workers eligibleunder the H-1B programme; exemptions from the cap; theappropriateness of H-1B hiring by staffing companies; thelevel of the cap; and the role the programme should play inthe US immigration system in relationship to permanentresidency.

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