H1 Visas in news again: Applications for Fiscal Year 2018 Beginning April 3

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS,  announced on March 15, 2017 that it will accept H-1B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2018 Beginning April 3 (Link: USCIS Announcement). The announcement added

The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent. H-1B specialty occupations may include fields such as science, engineering and information technology.

Congress set a cap of 65,000 H-1B visas per fiscal year. An advanced degree exemption from the H-1B cap is available for 20,000 beneficiaries who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher. The agency will monitor the number of petitions received and notify the public when the H-1B cap has been met. 
USCIS recently announced a temporary suspension of premium processing for all H-1B petitions starting April 3 for up to six months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H1B nonimmigrant classification.
In the past years, USCIS had been accepting the applications during first five business days. During the initial few days, they would receive enough petitions to fill in the Congressional mandated 85,000 H-1B visas. Media and immigration consultants are speculating if this year be different.  This 85,000 Congressional mandated limit on H-1B visas include 65,000 in the general category and another 20,000 for foreign students who have masters or higher degree from a US academic institutions.
Top H1 sponsoring companies (link to list) include Indian, American and European software service firms including Infosys, Capgemini, Tata Consultancy Services, IBM, Wipro, Accenture, Tech Mahindra (Americas), Deloitte Consulting, Cognizant Technology Solutions. The top-20 list includes software companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

Other articles and blogs on the topic

Indian American Congressman urges Sessions to combat hate crimes

Indian American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi has urged US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take immediate action to stop rising hate crimes in the US.

Krishnamoorthi, in a letter, requested Sessions to use his discretion in the Justice Department to thwart the rising incidents of hate and violence in the country, American Bazaar online reported on Thursday.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi
U.S Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (source Official house.gov)

“From grave desecration at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis to a shooting at a bar in Kansas, Americans have been shaken to the core by the recent rise in hate crimes,” Krishnamoorthi said in the letter.

The Indian American community was in a state of shock after a US Navy veteran Adam Purinton shot dead Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla and injured Alok Madasani in an apparent hate crime on February 22.


More about the issue that is being debated from our prior blogs


Purinton reportedly got into an argument with the two and hurled racial slurs. He yelled “get out of my country” before shooting them.

Several other instances of hate crime were also witnessed in the US. Jewish Community Centres across the country have received bomb threats, and countless Muslims have been harassed and threatened, the Democrat said.

“All Americans must be able to count on the federal government to defend their fundamental rights as citizens of this great republic. If any American is harassed or threatened because of who they are, it harms everyone,” Krishnamoorthi said.

“I respectfully urge you to use the full powers of the Justice Department to investigate and combat this disturbing rise in hate crimes,” he said. “These attacks seek to undermine not just public safety, but the very nature of American exceptionalism.”

He said: “For more than two hundred years, the US has stood as a beacon of freedom from tyranny, oppression, and persecution.”

“A fundamental promise of our nation is that any American — regardless of where you come from, the color of your skin, or how you pray — can trust the federal government to preserve, protect, and defend their rights,” Krishnamoorthi added. (IANS news feed)


About Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. Official website https://krishnamoorthi.house.gov/

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi was elected in November 2016 to represent the 8th District of Illinois, which includes the west and northwest suburbs of Chicago.  Raja’s policy platform focuses on growing and strengthening the middle class by supporting small businesses, rebuilding our infrastructure, and protecting Social Security and Medicare.  Raja knows our economy works best when it works for all of us, and that’s why he’s fighting to make college more affordable, expand access to paid sick and parental leave, and guarantee equal pay for equal work.”

Check out our earlier feature “Desis in U.S Congress! Indian-American Fab Five formally enter US Congress on Tuesday”

NRI Group Offers Tips On How To Survive In America

After The Killing Of Srinivas Kuchibhotla*, NRI Group Offers Tips On How To Survive In America

The General Secretary of the Virginia-based Telangana American Telugu Association (TATA), Vikram Jangam, offers four “tips” for Indians in America. Some tips for community members and South Asian descent during these challenging times. Please be aware of your surroundings and say something if you see anything suspicious.

  • Do not get into Argument with others at public places
  • If someone is provoking, Avoid confronting and leave the place.
  • Do not communicate in Mother Tongue as it may be misconstructed.
  • Avoid Isolated places
  • Avoid staying single
  • Do not Hesitate to call 911 in emergency.

Some of this is common sense and many of us living in the US may already be aware of these tips.


Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani were at a bar in Kansas on Wednesday when Adam W Purinton asked them if they were in the country illegally. After he was thrown out of the bar, Purinton returned and yelled “get out of my country”. He shot dead Kuchibhotla and wounded Madasani.

Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions to be suspended starting April 3, 2017 : what should you know

Here is a recent announcement by US’s Immigration services that is making headlines

USCIS Will Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Petitions starting April 3, 2017 (link)

Image: Reuters

Text of official announcement follows:

Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This suspension may last up to 6 months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions.

Who Is Affected

The temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. Since FY18 cap-subject H-1B petitions cannot be filed before April 3, 2017, this suspension will apply to all petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B regular cap and master’s advanced degree cap exemption (the “master’s cap”). The suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt.

While premium processing is suspended, we will reject any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, we will have to reject both forms.

We will continue to premium process Form I-129 H-1B petitions if the petitioner properly filed an associated Form I-907 before April 3, 2017. Therefore, we will refund the premium processing fee if:

  1. The petitioner filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B petition before April 3, 2017, and
  2. We did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period.

This temporary suspension of premium processing does not apply to other eligible nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.

The suspension of premium processing of H1 Visa applications is making headlines in Tech and business media around the world. This is being seen as yet another move by President Trump’s administration to tighten and control the processing of work-visa applications to the US.

As per GaramChai.com’s report, top 10 Indian Software services companies including Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Cognizant and others are the top H1 visa sponsors (list of top sponsors in 2016-2017).

The premium processing basically guarantees a decision in 15 days, which makes it extremely useful for businesses looking to hire someone at short notice. Most employers will not be in a position to wait for 8-10 months for a regular processing.

Although media is focused on the impact of the visas on Software service companies, many of these firms – including IBM, Accenture, Deloitte, Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Cognizant – sponsor H1 Visa applications for scores of employees much in advance of specific client requests. Such applications are unlikely to be hit by any backlog. At least not in the long term.

Media reaction to the announcement:

Does Indian Media feels vindicated after Trump condemns techie’s killing ?

The Indian Media sounded like it was vindicated after news of American President Donald Trump condemning the Indian Techie’s killing.

Press Trust of India, from Washington DC posted an article, which was picked up by much of the Indian media “Trump condemns Indian techie’s killing in address to Congress”

About the incident (link): Last week, two Indians were caught in the crosscurrents of racial tension in America while at  a Kansas bar-cum-grill when one American fired seven bullets at them after yelling “get out of my country”, and another tried to stop the gunman.

After the incident, the media, digirati and American policy watchers waited for an announcement by Mr. Trump. (ref: Step up and speak out: Hillary Clinton to Prez Trump on Indian techie’s killing – HT || Trump’s silence ‘disquieting’: Kansas City Star edit on Indian techie’s killing – MSN)

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday broke his silence on the fatal Kansas shooting by stating “America stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”  Trump added in his address to the joint session of US Congress:

“Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms”

A section of the Indian media sounded vindicated by Trump’s acknowledgement:

However, some in the Media also reviewed this as a “half-hearted” acknowledgement of the hate crime. Indian Express Editorial posted :  Trump’s half-hearted mention of hate crimes in joint address hints unwillingness to take action

“His campaign was filled with inflammatory rhetoric and this administration’s policies seem no different. Hate crimes like the Kansas attacks have followed a wave of racist attacks and this wave continues unabated. White House stayed in denial and refused to link the two. Though he mustered up the courage to speak up against hate crimes and anti-semitism emerging again in the country, he didn’t promise any action against the perpetrators.”

Bottomline: this is not the last word on the topic

Kansas shooting: GoFundMe Raises nearly $ million for Family victims

Our heartfelt condolences go to the families of the victims of Shooting at a Kansas Bar this week ..

About the incident: Two Indians were caught in the crosscurrents of Donald Trump’s America in a Kansas bar-cum-grill on Wednesday evening when one American fired seven bullets at them after yelling “get out of my country”, and another tried to stop the gunman.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, was declared dead after he was brought to a hospital, while his friend, Alok Reddy Madasani, also 32, survived and was discharged today.


We applaud the courage of Sunayana Dumala, the young widow of the Indian man who was killed in shooting, for standing up in front of the global media demanding justice and answers. We hope the young widow, continues to get her voice heard and justice prevails!


The gunman, 51-year-old US navy veteran Adam Purinton, was on Thursday charged with premeditated first-degree murder and two counts of attempted premeditated first-degree murder. Bond has been set at $2 million.

The attack was probably the first major hate crime the Indian-origin community in the US has faced since Trump took oath as President after a campaign filled with rhetoric against immigrants. His victory had triggered worries of race attacks.

Donation and GoFundMe pages:

Srinu’s Family/Recovery Support – On February 22nd 2017,  an intoxicated man hurling racial slurs opened fire inside a packed Kansas bar killing our dearest friend Srinivas Kuchibhotla. (Raised $601,245 of $150k goal – 26th Feb)

Madasani / Kuchibhotla Relief Fund – Alok Madasani and Srinivas Kuchibhotla, both employees at Garmin, were enjoying their evening at a local sports bar in Olathe, KS when they were confronted with racist, bigoted remarks and ultimately shot as part of what appears to have been a vicious hate crime. ($87,117 of $100k goal – 26th Feb)

Alok Madasani Medical Relief fund – My brother-in-law Alok Reddy, 32, is recovering from his wounds after being shot by a former US Navy veteran, an attack eyewitnesses said could be racially motivated. Alok’s 32-year-old friend, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, was killed in the Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe. Alok and Srinivas were in the bar to cool off and have a beer after work on Wednesday night when they were attacked. They didnt expect that they would fall victims to the violence happened that night. I am raising this campaign to provide financial support for my brother-in-law’s medical expenses. ($13,733 of $75k goal – 26th Feb)

Media reaction :

Global Citizen Priyanka Chopra speaks out against Trump’s Immigration action

American and Indian media is all abuzz with accounts of Hollywood-Bollywood star and self proclaimed “Global Citizen,” Priyanka Chopra speaking out against President Donald Trump’s temporary immigration ban.

Priyanka Chopra (photo credit: iampriyankachopra.com)

Ms Chopra, who is gearing up for her Hollywood debut with ‘Baywatch’, made an emotional appeal for the suffering children. “As a global citizen, this has deeply affected me,” the Quantico star wrote.

In her widely circulated LinkedIn blog post, “We live in tough times… but I have hope” Ms Chopra says “As a global citizen, this has deeply affected me,” adding

Getting ready to post this blog, I was grounded by the news. All of the ‘banned’ countries are places where a lot of UNICEF work is going on, where children are suffering the most. What can I add that people across professions and age groups have not already said? But adding your voice will definitely make a difference.

And make a difference we must. Please join me in making our voice stronger so that globally, our children are not discriminated against on the basis of their religion and do not have to bear the brunt of a political witch hunt.

Yes Priyanka, we join you in making our voice stronger !


Other articles on this topic:

Actress and stars celebrate 68th Republic Day with great pride

 

GaramChai.com
Garamchai.com team wishes our visitors NRIs, PIOs and global Indian Diaspora a very happy 68th Republic day
Actress Smita Gondkar celebrates 68th Republic Day with great pride

Where on the occasion of  68th Republic day all Indians hold their head high, Marathi Actress Smita Gondkar a proud Indian too celebrates this momentous occasion with a great democratic spirit and same enthusiasm as she does every year.

Actress Smita Gondkar

Further sharing her experience Smita Gondkar says, “From flag hoisting to dancing on patriotic song is all what I always use to enjoy the most on Republic Day in my childhood but while growing up slowly and gradually I understood the true importance of this Day. It gives me an immense pride and happiness that I am an Indian and I belong to a country where there is so much unity,Traditions and diversity. The Indian Army and Soldiers  work round the clock 24/7 to protect our country. Their Sacrifice is something which can never be explained in words. They are the one because of whom we all live a safe joyful life. The giving and helpful nature of  Indians makes me fall in love with India every time as I celebrate this Day.”

About: Smita Gondkar is an Indian actress who works primarily in Marathi and Hindi films. Smita also featured in the famous Marathi music video, ‘Pappi De Parula’. Smita Gondkar was working in USA with Disney Cruise Line alongside people from 55 nations. Smita is also a professional stunt biker.

Link to her official website


Actress Jyoti Saxena gears up in the spirit of 68th republic day

“Republic day is a very important festival in India. I am very proud to be the citizen of India. At this day, I unfurl the National Flag of India and sing the National Anthem I salute the flag and soldiers to show my heartily respect for our republic country. It is celebrated all over the country by all peoples in good manners and also they express their love unity to each other by wishing happy republic day to each other” says Actress Jyoti Saxena who feels that India has developed a lot and counted among the powerful countries.

Jyoti Saxena

“Together with some developments, some drawbacks have also arisen such inequality, poverty, unemployment, corruption, illiteracy, etc. We need to take a pledge today for solving such problems in the society to make our country a best country of the world” adds the actress and wishes the fellow citizens a patriotic 68th Republic Day

Check out Jyoti Saxena’s Facebook page

Yet another Swedesi victory over a multinational : Amazon backtracks on Indian Flag doormat

A couple of days ago Amazon listed a series of doormats with Indian Flag on its Canadian portal.

Amazon.ca screen snapshop

A Non Resident Indian took offence and began tweeting about it to Indian Minister for external affairs. Interestingly, this news comes on the heels of the much lauded the Overseas Indian fest, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017 that concluded in Bangalore this week.

With characterstic speed, Sushma Swaraj swung to action and tweeted.

Immediately after Ms Sushma Swaraj tweeted her “warning,” Amazon took down the offending doormats from its websites. And the Desi media and bloggers had a field day patting their backs over yet another “Swedesi victory over a multinational”

But Indians, perhaps rightly want more:

“Amazon Canada might have removed the offensive product — doormat bearing the Indian tricolour — from its listings but it must go the whole hog and apologise to India for the infra dig heaped on Indians who wear their National Flag and nationalism on their sleeves.

The manufacturer, XLYL, may be one of the thousands of suppliers using the Amazon Canada portal, but that does not mean the e-commerce giant should be allowed to wash its hands of the stinking mentality of its supplier. Earlier, images of Indian gods were emblazoned on doormats sold by a supplier on the Amazon US portal. One wonders whether the offender then was the same XLYL. Amazon would do well to investigate the antecedents of such India-phobes and rein in them. The fig leaf of a ‘marketplace model’ should not be used as a cover by e-commerce portals to escape responsibility.  said Firstpost

It is not just the flag. Indians have begun a renewed push to get citizen to respect its flag. NY Times reports – Indian Cinemas Must Play the National Anthem, Supreme Court Rules

India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered movie theaters to play the national anthem before each screening, asserting that doing so would instill “a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism” in Indians.

In an interim order, the bench said that the anthem must be accompanied by images of the Indian flag, and that all present in the hall must stand while it is played.

 

This recent issue issue brings forth bigger questions:

  • We live in a globalized world but respect for individual cultures and social values are still paramount
  • Multinationals and even digital content aggregators and marketplaces cannot hide behind their suppliers and vendors. They need to take accountability for governance
  • Sovereign countries offer multinationals a “license to operate.” Such license to operate can be questioned if it conflicts with the values of the host country.
    • In this case, Amazon listed the flag-doormat on its Canadian website.
    • Indian people took offence and used social media to petition the Government leader took swift and decisive action, threatening Amazon with retaliation

Links to other media articles and blogs:

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017: Musings and Pictorial Observations

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is a major annual event orchestrated by the Indian Government’s Ministry of External Affairs “to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India.” It is a way for Indian government to show its global diaspora – that remitted nearly $68 billion to motherland – that it cares.

As an Indian-American with an OCI who has lived and worked in a dozen countries, I had read about the event held in the years past. This year I happen to be in Bangalore, and had an opportunity to attend the event and to see firsthand the Rock Star status Mr. Narendra Modi commands even among the Indian diaspora.

Getting there to BIEC: Navigating Bangalore Traffic on an Ola using Digital App. Most NRIs would dread driving on Indian roads!

A warm, Desi cultural welcome to the delegates

The Black Cat NSG commandos awaiting the arrival of VVIPs

Settling in with a Selfie before Mr. Modi Speaks!

Prime Minister Modi “Whether knowledge, time or money, we welcome your contributions that strengthen India’s partnership with overseas community”  Other Modi bytes :

  • “We don’t see the colour of the passport, our relationship is based on blood.”
  • “Earlier there used to be talk of ‘brain drain’. With your help, we want to turn that drain into ‘brain gain’.”
  • “There are over 30 million Indians living abroad. They are respected not just for their strength in numbers, but for the contributions they make to India and the country they live in.”

A lot of food for thought ….. and some good food too (catered by #TajBangalore)

A few heads Nodding off at a session after lunch. The NRI/OCI diaspora is diverse and varied. Not surprisingly, their issues too are varied and wide ranging. The techie from Houston can’t relate to the issues of the migrant workers in Saudi Arabia or the Girmityas in Mauritius or Fiji. … but the officials at PBD took pains to show they care!

A fellow OCI asks the Minister a question on an issue close to her heart!

A global event in Bangalore wouldn’t be complete without techies showcasing their digital Apps. Mr. Modi quipped “….And Sorry, did I mention our well known Information Technology Professionals?”


Pictures and narrative by Mohan K


Other links on the event