US suspends premium processing of H-1B visas

By: | Published: March 5, 2017 12:58 AM

The suspension is expected to last up to six months, creating a roadblock for Indian IT companies.

Indian IT companies like TCS, Infosys and Wipro are the largest recipients of H-1B visas.

The US government will temporarily suspend the premium processing for all H-1B petitions and this suspension is expected to last up to six months, creating a further roadblock for Indian IT companies which would require to send their employees on short notice. The premium processing of H-1B petitions is an accelerated process of getting these visas in a short period of time, by paying an extra fee.

In a communication, USCIS said, “The temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. Since FY18 cap-subject H-1B petitions cannot be filed before April 3, 2017, this suspension will apply to all petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B regular cap.”

According to the USCIS, this temporary suspension will help it reduce the overall H-1B processing times. “Process long-pending petitions, which we have currently 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,” it said.

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. The US remains the largest market for the Indian IT industry and it has been faced with several headwinds in recent months, raising questions on the ease of doing business in that country. Besides the latest directive of USCIS, there are numerous legislative Bills that have been introduced in US legislatures seeking to curb outsourcing of IT-related work and reducing the number of H-1B visas. The latest Bill introduced to curb IT outsourcing is called the US Call Center and Consumer Protection Act, which would make American companies ineligible for grants or guaranteed loans from the government if they shift call centre jobs to countries like India.

Nasscom, the trade body representing the Indian IT industry, has already met key officials in the US to put forward their point of view by seeking to explain how there is a shortage of knowledge professionals and the companies from India are only filling in these shortages. Even India’s foreign secretary has met with US representatives to explain India’s stand.

Indian IT companies like TCS, Infosys and Wipro are the largest recipients of H-1B visas, which are capped at 65,000 annually. Garnering such large a number of visas has attracted the attention of a few lawmakers in the US.

You may also like to watch this video

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. “It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and we encourage petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request,” it said.

Get live Stock Prices from BSE and NSE and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Switch to Hindi Edition