Published: Mon, March 06, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

U.S. nixes expedited H1B visa even as India talks up ties

U.S. nixes expedited H1B visa even as India talks up ties

While it is unclear up to when this suspension will continue, the USCIS indicated that it would hold for at least six months. In fact, it has become an issue the Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar raised with top officials of the Trump administration during his visit here March 1-4.

The H-1B visa is issued to tens of thousands of highly skilled foreign nationals each year, but as of April 3, applicants will no longer be able to use a costly shortcut to rush the processing of their visas.

"The current issue of the temporary suspension of premium H-1B processing will create some process delays for companies - Indian and American, but is not a significant impediment".

Presently the H-1B visas cap is 65,000 a year and it is valid for three years. The USCIS cited the huge backlog of H-1B applications for suspending the premium services. 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 H-1B non-immigrant visa allows United States companies to employ graduate-level workers in several specialized fields, including information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics.

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It is being said the temporary suspension will help in reducing a backlog of long-pending visa petitions. The timing of the USCIS announcement, within hours of an Indian foreign ministry delegation saying it had received a positive response from the U.S. on H-1B visas, also raised some eyebrows. The suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt. "If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, we will have to reject both forms", the agency said.

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".

In the fast processing the applications are eligible for approvals within fifteen days.

The department will consider all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis, but final grant will remain at the discretion of the office leadership, the notification said.

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