United States suspends fast processing of high-tech visa applications

US suspends premium processing of H1-B petitions

US suspends premium processing of H1-B petitions

As long as H-1B premium (or fast) processing is suspended, USCIS has said people will also not be able to file, among other things, petitions for a nonimmigrant worker, the classification under which Indian IT companies send their employees to work in the US.

The suspension goes into effect on April 3 and may last up to six months, according to the Department of Homeland Security's website.

The temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. Otherwise, the H-1B waiting period could be several months.

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The visas are good for three years, after which they can be extended for another three.

The H-1B non-immigrant visa allows US companies to employ graduate-level workers in several specialized fields, including information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics.

Although Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's tech lobbying group FWD.us has sought an expansion of the H1-B visa program, United States 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. As of April 3rd, that service is dead, although USCIS says that an expedited option will remain available in special cases such in emergencies and for humanitarian reasons. 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.

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The proposed legislation would eliminate the lottery system in favor of a "preference system" created by USCIS to give priority to foreign students educated in the US.

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.

"I feel like a lot of H-1B holders are kind of held hostage to staying at their company", says an employee of a large Bay Area tech company, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution.

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Trump had previously claimed to "forever end" the use of H1-B visas for cheaper labour and his top adviser Stephen Bannon has said that there was an issue with the number of Asian CEOs in Silicon Valley.

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