H1B Is a Gamble, So We’re Coming Home: Young Indians in America
Many Indians studying or working in America, are now returning home due to the unstable nature of the H1B policy under Trump. 
Many Indians studying or working in America, are now returning home due to the unstable nature of the H1B policy under Trump. (Photo: iStock)

H1B Is a Gamble, So We’re Coming Home: Young Indians in America

US President Donald Trump has been changing the H1B visa policies – instrumental for the young Indian student or professional looking to work in America – at a rapid pace since his election, leaving many of these dreamers with little option but to force-exit the country and come back to their homeland.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)L Francis Cissna recently proclaimed that he would be happy if the American law prevented the "replacement" of an American by an H1B holder, in terms of jobs.

"I would really love it if Congress would pass a provision prohibiting American workers being replaced by H1B workers. I could draft it myself, probably right now, you know?" he reportedly stated.

With this mindset, reflecting Trump's electoral promise to win back America for the Americans, the security of a future for Indians in the country looks bleak.

Disillusioned and defeated, several of these individuals took to social media to share their experiences of having their goals "trumped" by the very country they wished to build a life in.

Also Read : US Congressmen Oppose Changes in H1B Visa Rules 

“Why It’s Not Fun Being On Your H1B”

Divyanth Jayaraj moved to America right after his graduation in Information Sciences in Bengaluru, after securing a seat in University of Charlotte. After completing his MS a year and a half later, it took him six months to find his first job.

At that time, he was on his OPT Visa, which allowed him to work for 29 months. Following this, he applied for his H1B visa.

Here’s why being on my H1B was not fun. The first reason is that it is so restrictive. If you are on an H1B visa, you have to have a job. If you don’t have a job, it means that you are out of status. 
Divyanth Jayaraj

The maximum period that you can remain without a job once you get your H1B is just two months, Divyanth says. "The problem with having only 2 months to find a job, is that good jobs take a lot of time to find."

Secondly, if you are on your H1B visa, you have to work for the company that sponsored you.

You can’t have a side-gig, you can’t have a startup, you can’t work on your own, personal projects. Doing this would violate the terms of your visa and you wouldn’t want that, because it would raise questions on your profile.
Divyanth Jayaraj

Also Read : Visas Discussed With Trump Without Using Term ‘H1B’: Sushma in RS

"Everything you do is linked to your H1B Visa. Including your driver's license, which is valid only for the duration of your H1B visa."

Filing the paperwork required for the H1B visa is another nightmare, he says.

Companies don't usually trust themselves to do that, so they hire lawyers, which makes it an extremely expensive proposition. Transfers or amendments in the H1B visa also become a costly affair. This expense becomes a major deterrent for many companies to hire foreign workers, he says.

“Why I Moved Back to India”

"The question I'm always asked is, “Why did you move back to India? Why did you give up the American dream?"

Urvashi Goverdhan spent seven years in Atlanta, America, first as an undergraduate student for four years and then as an employee in the company for the next three.

Despite having her H1B visa, Goverdhan decided to give it all up and come back.

I felt like my life was becoming monotonous...I’d discovered a formula that wasn’t about to change. I knew my network in India was so much more diverse.
Urvashi Goverdhan

Goverdhan echoed Divyanth's complaints of the H1B, calling it "restrictive" and confirming that it didn't allow one to work outside of their sponsored jobs and make an income on the side.

Coming back home, she says, would have opened up a lot of options for her. Due to the restrictions accompanying the H1B visa, building a network in America is hard, she added. And how does one climb up the career ladder without making connections?

Also Read : H1B Applicants Are Being Diverted to O Visa, Says Top US Senator

To struggle for a dream that wasn’t necessarily mine, was definitely difficult.
Urvashi Goverdhan

“H1B Sponsorship Is a Myth”

Delhi boy Ayush Vashistha went to University of Maryland, College Park, as a bright-eyed fresher. Following graduation, Ayush spent exactly a year looking for a job in the country, before taking the decision to move back to India.

All the contracting jobs that are more favourable for an H1B visa, all beckon towards the tech industry mostly. For someone looking for a job in the non-tech sector, the opportunities are much lesser for foreign workers and the chances of getting their H1B sponsored are less probable.
Ayush Vashistha

The financing, the lawyers, the paperwork, doesn't provide companies with any incentive to hire such workers who are looking to secure their H1B. As a result, they end up hiring locals with American citizenship or at least those who possess a green card.

There is also the problem of the lottery system, he says. About 2 lakh people enter the lottery for their H1B Visa, out of which only about 60,000 get their H1B approved. You not only have to enter the lottery system, you have to get your H1B approved to even get into the lottery system, he says.

"Nowadays, the rejection of those even seeking approval for their H1Bs to enter the lottery system, are at an all-time high."

“H1B Exploited by Consulting Companies”

By providing you with the H1B, companies entail full rights to exploit you as they see fit, says C Reddy in the video.

They may provide you with a base salary as per your contract and make an oral deal with you, saying that they will pay you a majority commission based on your services.

However, in most cases, they will make a 100 percent profit off of you and not pay you even half of the amount that's your due, he says.

Also Read : No H1B Visa Talks in Trump Meet, India Has a ‘Weak PM’, Says RaGa

These companies like to employ immigrant workers from India because we work a lot harder for a lot cheaper.
C Reddy

“They don't pay for your H1B filing, they tell you that you will receive all the benefits of a full-time employee, however this often isn't true. The health insurance that they provide for instance, is terrible. And they constantly threaten you, saying that they will cancel your H1B, if you raise the question of transferring jobs,” he adds.

“It’s Not Easy If You’re Coming From India”

Sharing his story, Vichars Murtimani offers the pros and cons of applying for the H1B and what life is like for the Indian employee once he's on it.

Speaking about a personal bias that a senior American in his company had against him, which eventually led to him being let go, he said:

That was the first time I realised how my H1B visa had put me in a disadvantage.
Vichars Murtimani

When you're in a situation where nothing is certain – the way of life with an H1B –it takes a toll on your personal life. Your wife, for instance, can't work, since she is on an H4 visa – a dependant on you. You can't invest in a house or something that's permanent, he says.

It's worse when you're coming from India, because the H1B application process is such a gamble, and since there are so many people (due to a larger population) hailing from there, the chances of you receiving it is considerably less as compared to other countries, he adds.

Based on these experiences, is a future in America worth it for the young Indian? Do you have your own experiences to share? Tell us. We’re listening.

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