Fast Processing of H-1B Visas Suspended

US suspends fast processing of H-1B visas workers will now have to wait months instead of weeks

While there's no exact clarity that when this suspension would be uplifted, it's said that it may last up to six months.

It would also require employers to make a "good faith effort" to recruit American workers over foreigners, as well as give the departments of Homeland Security and Labor more authority to investigate fraud and abuse. The statement read that USCIS wants to process the pending cases that are nearing the 240 day mark, on priority.

According to the USCIS, this temporary suspension will help it reduce the overall H-1B processing times.

Indian IT companies like TCS, Infosys and Wipro are the largest recipients of H-1B visas, which are capped at 65,000 annually. Companies had been allowed to petition for premium processing by paying a $1,225 fee.

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The H-1B non-immigrant visa allows US companies to employ graduate-level workers in several specialized fields, including information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics.

Under the current system, companies submitting applications for H-1B visas for potential employees can pay extra for expedited processing, which is referred to as premium processing.

Apparently, the reason for this temporary suspension is to "process long-pending petitions".

It further elaborates, "We will continue to premium process Form I-129 H-1B petitions if the petitioner properly filed an associated Form 1-907 before April 3, 2017".

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While no new law or executive order has been passed yet, experts nearly unanimously agree that the H-1B visa programme will most certainly undergo a change, impacting Indian IT companies.

This suspension would have strong impact on several applicants from India. "We review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership", the USCIS said. "It is the petitioner's responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and we encourage petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request", it said.

It is pertinent to mention that this comes at a time when Donald Trump is pushing for drastic measures for stricter rules on immigration and foreign skilled-worker visas to the US.

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