US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a six-month suspension of the H-1B expedited service option on Friday, an adjustment many suspect is the first in a more serious reform effort by the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, USCIS said that while the premium processing is suspended, petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the expedite criteria on a case-to-case basis. Processing of standard H-1B applications - those that are not premium - takes between three to six months.
According to a statement from the USCIS, the suspension may last up to six months, and will help the agency to "process long-pending petitions, which we have 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; and prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark".
This latest move could further impede the operations of not only Indian IT companies but also the US MNCs, which depend on these H-1B visas for the execution of projects.
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The visas are good for three years, after which they can be extended for another three. He calls them "de facto indentured servants", since workers nearly always stay at the sponsoring company for the entire three-year period of the visa, a rarity in the fast-moving tech job market.
The visas are now doled out by lottery, and outsourcing firms like Infosys and Tata Consulting flood the visa application pool, according to The Verge. They take a sizable cut of the salary. This bill provides protections for American workers and visa holders.
Since FY18 cap-subject H-1B petitions can not be filed before April 3, 2017, this suspension will apply to all petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B regular cap and master's advanced degree cap exemption. Richard Durbin (D) of IL asking Trump to revamp the law and replace the lottery with a system prioritizing graduates of USA universities and the highest-paid workers. In doing so, it would aim to weed out foreign outsourcing firms, which are said to exploit the system.
Photograph of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security.