USA to slow processing of visas for high-skilled workers

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services on Friday announced that it will temporarily suspend its premium processing for all H1-B petitions from April 3 onwards.

H-1B visas, often referred to as high-skilled visas, let USA companies temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.

Foreigners aiming for temporary jobs at high-tech USA companies will undergo a longer visa approval process after the Trump administration announced it will temporarily suspend expedited applications for H-1B visas.

It is however not clear until when the process will be suspended.

The H-1B non-immigrant visa allows USA companies to employ graduate-level workers in several specialized fields, including information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics. The department, in a statement, said that the suspension may last up to six months and that it was a move by the administration to speed up all the applications.

Outsourcing firms flood the system with applicants, obtaining visas for foreign workers and then farming them out to tech companies. Fears have risen among the potential cohort of H1-B visa applicants about the Trump administration possibly taking an anti-H1-B visa stance and cutting down the program. By temporarily suspending premium processing, the U.S. administration hopes to process long-pending petitions, which they have now been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years; and prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark. By temporarily suspending premium processing, the agency said it will be able to process long-pending petitions, which it has now been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years. The suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt.

When asked about discussion held with the Trump administration over the H-1B visa issue, the Foreign Secretary said the issue was discussed in a number of meetings with administration officials as well as the Congress.

As long as H-1B premium (or fast) processing is suspended, USCIS has said people will also not be able to file, among other things, petitions for a nonimmigrant worker, the classification under which Indian IT companies send their employees to work in the US. Before this rule was passed, the company was allowed to file an application to expedite the processing of that petition, after paying an additional fee of $1,225, thus ensuring a response from the USCIS within 15 days, rather than the three to six months they normally take. The agency indicated petitioners had a better chance if hey submitted documentary evidence to support the expedite request.

  • Leroy Wright


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