In the United States, workers from India comprise the largest number of H-1B professionals. For decades, the “American Dream” has been the aspiration for thousands of Indians. Whether it’s a young Indian student looking for an innovative job, or a newly-wed couple keen to find a better quality of life, the U.S. has become a relocation hotbed for many Indians.
But with the current political climate, several Indian professionals are finding that their goal is becoming more of a chase than an attainable reality. In the wake of Trump’s policy changes on immigration, Indians have been hit the hardest. In a recent report from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) it was shown how the “Buy American and Hire American” executive order from April 2017 has impacted H-1B applicants in the last year. Indians, in particular, have been facing a high level of scrutiny and denial of the H1-B Visa.
The NFAP policy brief illustrated that the number of H-1B petitions denied for Indian-born professionals spiked from 16.6% to 23.6% from the 3rd to the 4th quarter of the FY 2017- a 42% increase in the span of three months. The memo also showed that in FY2017 72% to 77% of the petitions denied were for professionals from India.
Equally noteworthy, Requests for Evidence (RFEs), demanding more information on the applicant, surged significantly in the fourth quarter:
The report, which is based on data obtained from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), cited that “USCIS adjudicators were much more likely to issue a Request for Evidence for applications for Indians than for people from other countries.” This is evidenced by data which showed that in the 4th quarter of FY 2017, 72% of H-1B cases for Indians received a Request for Evidence. In fact, according to the NFAP, “data analyzed over the years from USCIS have shown applications for Indians result in higher rates of denials and Requests for Evidence on both H-1B and L-1 visas.”
The massive increase in RFEs and denials of highly-skilled foreign nationals seeking permission to work in America has been a disappointment for many Indians. In the wake of these policy changes, it is clear that it is becoming increasingly difficult for even the most highly educated scientists, engineers, and financiers to work in the United States. For some, it has been a stroke of luck. For others, it has meant facing the grim reality of leaving behind a life they worked so hard to build. To add, evidence has suggested that this increasing trend is likely to continue throughout FY 2018.
Why Leave it to Chance? The “EB-5” Solution.
With the burgeoning trend of H-1B restrictions continuing into 2018, many immigrants are eager to find a permanent solution to remain in the United States. The EB-5 Investor Visa (‘EB-5”) is one such method.
Through this program, entrepreneurs are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residency). EB-5, which was started in 1990 by US Congress, was created to stimulate local job creation through foreign capital and thereby reward the foreign investor with a US green card.
Unlike H-1B, EB-5 does not depend on employer sponsorship nor on a lottery system. Instead, it gives the investor the flexibility to live and work anywhere in the United States and gives the added advantage of work authorization for one’s spouse. An extra layer of benefit comes to families with children (under 21), who, as permanent residents, are eligible for in-state tuition at universities. In-state tuition rates are typically much cheaper than full tuition rates charged to foreign nationals. The most significant benefit, perhaps, is that the investor visa opens up the door to US citizenship. After an investor fulfills the five-year lawful permanent residency requirements, he/she is eligible to apply for citizenship.
With so much unpredictability surrounding H-1B visa approvals, several Indian immigrants are keen to put their fears to rest. And, for those that do not want to leave their American Dream to luck, EB-5 is their best solution.