Record Number of Work Visas Granted to Indians

The U.S. State Department recently announced the U.S. Mission to India issued a record number of work visas during the 2011 fiscal year.

After receiving the highest number of applications for H-1B work visas in its history, the U.S. Mission to India granted 67,195 of the documents, which allow international workers to be employed in the United States for three years. According to the State Department, this represents a 24 percent year-over-year increase in the number of H-1B visas granted to Indian workers.

More business visas are granted to India than to any other country. In 2011, it received more than twice as many H-1B visas as the four next-highest countries put together and also accounted for 37 percent of L-1 visas issued globally. L-1 visas allow for intra-company transfers across international borders.

The State Department said the historic number of visa applications and conferrals is an indication of how strong business ties are between the United States and India.

Despite these healthy numbers, business and political leaders in both the United States and India have recently called for even more business-related visas to be granted.

In September, Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told a CEO forum in Washington, D.C., that demand is still outstripping supply when it comes to the number of H-1Bs issued to Indians.

A few days after Sharma spoke to the CEO conference, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg brought up the issue of business-related visas and green cards while addressing a U.S. Chamber of Commerce gathering. He said that to grow the economy, the United States should do away with per-country caps on business visas and redress the inequality between the number of family reunification green cards and business green cards issued each year.