The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has resumed premium processing of H1B work visas in all categories on Tuesday( 3rd Oct ‘17), months after it was suspended temporarily to handle the huge rush of petitions for the work visas. The H1B work visa is popular and most widely used visa among non-immigrants seeking job opportunities in USA mainly Indian IT professionals.
The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.
Every year USCIS can issues a maximum of 65,000 H1B visas and 20,000 to those who have earned higher education in STEM subjects from a US higher educational institution.
Premium processing is like a “expedite processing” scheme that allows faster processing of applications within 15 calendar days for a cost of USD 1,225 per application. Premium Processing does not ensure the approval of the petition but the processing is done in 15 days.
Click to read more about President Donald Trump signed an executive order for reforming the H-1B visa program and stop “misuse” of H1B, visit: Buy American, Hire American
USCIS had suspended premium processing temporarily from April 3rd to handle huge rush of new petitions and able to process long-pending petitions. On September 18, the USCIS resumed premium processing; for some categories of visas was opened up for the fast processing. . “Premium processing is now available for all types of H- 1B petitions,” US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said on Tuesday.
“H-1B visas provide skilled workers for a wide range of specialty occupations, including information technology, engineering, and mathematics. When a petitioner requests the agency’s premium processing service, USCIS guarantees a 15-calendar day processing time. If that time is not met, the agency will refund the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continue with expedited processing of the application,” USCIS said in a statement on Tuesday.
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Meanwhile, Kenneth Juster, nominee for US Ambassador to India, during his confirmation hearing said that H1B visa has been an important part of the India-US relationship and there is a consensus that it should be corrected to high quality jobs.
“I think there is a consensus that it (H1B) should be corrected to high quality jobs. I think that message from my understanding is being heard in India as well in the United States,” Juster told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“However, an actual detail on what will be the final policy on H-1B remains to be determined. So I’m not really in a position to represent the administration on where they are,” Juster said when asked about his position on H1B visas by Senator Chris Coons.
According to USCIS data, India, which has been the top beneficiary of the H-1B visa programme since 2007, has applied for 247,927 H-1B visas so far in 2017.
The Indian IT industry has been accused of misusing the H-1B visa programme, a claim that it has consistently denied. The industry has been bracing itself for drastic changes in the programme ever since US President Donald Trump took office in November last year.
The Trump administration is currently reviewing the H1B visa policy as it thinks that the visa is being misused by companies to replace American workers. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj raised the visa issue with US secretary of state Rex Tillerson when the two leaders met in New York last month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
On their part, Indian IT companies have been working towards a business model that is less dependent on visas.