Five Months After It’s Suspension, US Resumes Premium Processing Of H-1B Visas
The US has resumed fast processing of H-1B visas in all categories subjected to Congress-mandated limits, five months after it was suspended temporarily to handle the huge rush of applications for the work visas popular among Indian IT professionals, reported The Times of India.
Capping for the financial year 2017-18
Premium processing of H-1B visa was suspended in April to handle huge numbers of new petitions. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed premium processing yesterday for all H-1B visa petitions subject to the Fiscal year (FY) 2018 cap, a media release said.
Premium processing has also been resumed for the annual 20,000 additional petitions that are set aside to hire workers with a US higher education degree, it said. When a petitioner requests the agency’s premium processing services, USCIS guarantees a 15-day processing time.
“If the 15-calendar day processing time is not met, the agency will refund the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continue with the expedited processing of the application,” the USCIS added.
The service is only available for pending petitions, not new submissions since USCIS received enough petitions in April to meet the FY 2018 cap. The USCIS also resumed premium processing H-1B visas filed on the behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program as well as interested government agency waivers and for certain H-1B petitions that are not subject to the cap.
Impact on the Indian software industry
In a report by NDTV, a US official said, “The programme is going on as it was, in fact, we have issued more H-1B visas to Indians this year than we did last year.” He also confirmed that there are no restrictions being applied that would reduce the number of Indians who can get H-1B visas.
This reassurance will be made when Indian and US officials meet on September 27th in Washington DC for an annual consular dialogue that discusses issues like promoting tourism, travel and business between the two countries.
India’s software industry which is of an annual worth of about $150 billion, depends heavily on the visas for highly-skilled workers to send techies and others to the US. Donald Trump has ordered reviewing the H-1B visa program, suggesting it should be inclined towards the highest-paying, highest-skilled jobs than deciding recipients on the basis of a random lottery, through a committee that is examining the program. It is tasked with recommending reforms which don’t have a fixed timeline.
H-1B visas are aimed at foreign nationals in occupations that generally require specialised knowledge, such as science, engineering or computer programming. The US government uses a lottery system to allot 65,000 such visas yearly. Indians are the largest group of H-1B recipients annually. The profitability of Indian software will suffer a huge dent since restrictions will be imposed on many Indians who won’t be able to fulfill the criteria.
Critics say the lottery benefits outsourcing firms like TCS and Infosys. These organisations flood the system with mass visa application for low paid IT workers mostly from India. It takes away job opportunities from the Americans. Techies from Indians are sent to serve the clients there at salaries that are lower than hiring from within America. This keeps away the American from being trained in tech-related fields.
This move taken up the US government is a highly appreciable move. The Logical Indian welcomes the steps to revise H-1B taken up by the Trump government.