Washington: The US has announced resuming faster processing of H1B work visas, popular with Indian IT professionals, for high-skilled foreign professionals in categories exempt from Congress-mandated limit, which are mostly for higher education and scientific research institutions.
The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialised fields. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.
During his campaign, US President Donald Trump had promised to increase oversight of H1B and L1 visa programmes. He had signed an executive order in April to tighten the rules of the programme to stop visa abuses.
Trump had said that his administration is going to enforce ‘Hire American’ rules that are designed to protect jobs and wages of workers in the US.
“US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will resume premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions effective immediately," an official statement said on Monday.
The H1B visa cap is of 65,000 visas for each fiscal year. Additionally, there is an annual “master’s cap" of 20,000 petitions filed for beneficiaries with a US master’s degree or higher.
According to the USCIS, premium processing will resume for petitions that may be exempt from the cap if the H1B petitioner is an institution of higher education, a non-profit related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education, or a non-profit research or governmental research organisation.
“Premium processing will also resume for petitions that may also be exempt if the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, organisation or entity," the USCIS said. It has previously announced that premium processing resumed on 26 June for H1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver programme as well as interested government agency waivers.
The federal agency also plans to resume premium processing of other H1B petitions as workloads permit.
In a statement, the USCIS said it will make additional announcements with specific details related to when it will begin accepting premium processing for those petitions. Until then, premium processing remains temporarily suspended for all other H1B petitions. PTI