U.S.

USA to temporarily suspend premium processing of H1-B visas

USA to temporarily suspend premium processing of H1-B visas

A statement on Friday from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States, said it would temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B visa petitions from April 3. The lobby group, however, added that the move would not be a "significant impediment" for the $110-billion outsourcing industry.

H1-B is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

The announcement said companies could apply to have an application for a H-1B visa expedited, provided they met certain criteria. The ban is not what may please Indian government as New Delhi pressed for a fair and rational approach on the H1-B visa matter considering the trade and business practicalities.

The decision was announced just hours after top Indian officials - foreign secretary S Jaishankar and commerce secretary Rita Teotia - held meetings with officials and lawmakers in the USA to view the H1-B visa issue as a trade and services matter, and not an immigration one.

Presently the H-1B visas cap is 65,000 a year and it is valid for three years.


The US market contributes about 60 per cent of the export revenue for the Indian software sector, led by TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL and others. 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 most impact to the IT industry will be on fresh H-1B applicants, said Rajiv Dabhadkar, founder of the National Organisation for Software and Technology Professionals, which works for Indian workers overseas. It will also further decrease the overall H-1B processing times.

Under the current system, a company who is sponsoring a potential employee or current employee's H-1B petition may fill out a form to expedite the processing of that petition. Various industries, including tech, engineering, journalism, medicine and academia, vie each year for the program's 85,000 visas.

This reform came up a day after a NASSCOM delegation concluded its trip to the U.S. during which they met several USA lawmakers to sensitise them about the importance of H-1B and L1 visas.


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