Published: Sun, March 05, 2017
National | By Miranda Cannon

USA suspends expedited processing of H-1B visas

With the present system, companies sending out petitions for H-1B visas can pay for faster processing, also called "premium processing". The temporary suspension might last for six months, USCIS said.

The change has the potential to make big waves in the tech industry, where as many as 1 million H-1B visa holders make up 13 percent of technology jobs, according to The New York Times. US companies often use the visas to bring lower-cost skilled workers to the United States.

However, it will continue to premium process Form I-129 H-1B petitions if the petitioner properly filed an associated Form I-907 before April 3, 2017.

Although Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's tech lobbying group has sought an expansion of the H1-B visa program, U.S. senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) sent a letter to Trump administration on Friday morning asking the president to deliver on his campaign promise to crack down on H-1B visas.

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A press release issued by the USCIS stated that the temporary suspension would help the administration, reduce the overall H1-B processing times.

H-1B's stated goal is to attract highly educated specialists to U.S. jobs that companies can't fill, and while it applies to a number of industries, the majority of recipients work in technology.

"While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification". The suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt. Indians have also been awarded the highest number of H-1B visas among all nationalities in the United States, all along since the program came into existence in 1990. Before this rule was passed, the company was allowed to file an application to expedite the processing of that petition, after paying an additional fee of $1,225, thus ensuring a response from the USCIS within 15 days, rather than the three to six months they normally take. It's said that it is the petitioner's responsibility to demonstrate to meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and petitioners shall have to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request.

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