United States to temporarily suspend premium processing of H1-B visas

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Premium processing is akin to "tatkaal" scheme for H-1B visas: A decision is made on each application within 15 calendar days for a fee of $1,225 under this programme.

At present, the U.S. has a cap of 65,000 visas for the general category under H-1B visas and allows a further 20,000 people who have a USA master's degree from an accredited institution to also apply. Dick Durbin, who claim it is being abused to replace US workers with low-priced outsourced labor.

Notwithstanding the delays that are expected to be faced by Indian IT companies in premium processing due to the temporary suspension of H-1B visas by the United States, the development won't come as a "significant impediment", industry body Nasscom said on Sunday in a statement. 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. Estimates have shown that 86% of H-1B visas for IT-related jobs are issued to Indians.

Now till the H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907. "This has happened in the past for a couple of months to clear the backlog and we will work with the US Embassy in India to enable mobility of skilled talent is not impacted due to process issues", Nasscom said. The suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt.

The release also states the reasoning behind this move, claiming that it is an exercise to "reduce overall H-1B processing times".

However, immigration attorney Jason Finkelman said the wait time for an H-1B visa in California is now eight months, and that the delay "has everything to do with an understaffed, overworked U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services". More than half the applications come from India.

According to the bill, the employers would now first offer a vacant position to an equally or better qualified American worker before seeking an H-1B or L1 visa holder.

Applicants are still allowed to request expedition of an H-1B petition, if they fall under at least one of the criterion listed by them, following which, each expedite requests will be reviewed individually by the department.

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