A new study shows that the US has discriminated against Indians in the grant of professional visas over the last four years, roughly coinciding with President Barack Obama's tenure.
The study uses US Citizenship and Immigration Services data to show rejections in the L-1 and H-1B visa categories have spiked across the board, with Indians hit the hardest.
"Data indicate much of the increase in denials involves Indian-born professionals and researchers," said the National Foundation for American Policy in the study released Thursday.
Indian industry and US IT companies who source personnel from Indian have for a while complained of discrimination, which the US authorities had denied. A visiting CII delegation raised the issue at its meetings last year at the White House, the US state department and on the Capitol Hill, home to US federal legislature.
The Obama administration has never concealed its opposition to outsourcing and the import of cheaper hands. The president reiterated that in his last State of the Union address.
The new study, therefore, will not surprise many people in India, who have long known of a discriminatory visa regime for Indians anecdotally.
It just makes it harder for the US to deny it now.
"Country-specific data on new L-1B petitions (for inter-company transfer to the US) indicate US Citizenship and Immigration Services is more likely to deny a petition from an Indian-born professional than nationals of other countries," said the report.
Till 2008, the year before Obama took office, L-1B rejection for India — 2.8% — was similar to those of other high yield countries such as China, Japan and Germany. That changed in 2009, the year Obama took office. Rejection rates for Indians shot up eight-fold to 22.5% from 2.8% the previous year, the study showed.
Denials went up for most other countries also, but stayed within a range of 4.1% to 5.9%. India was up there at the top, with Mexico for company.
US IT firms have complained of the rejection/denial taking another form: request for evidence. The applicant is asked for more details, and that pretty much mothballs the application. But the study did not provide country-wise data.