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US H1B Visa Premium Processing Suspension could Damage the IT Sector

March 2017, 07
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US H1B Visa Premium Processing
After recently assumed reassurances for those relying on the H1B visa to work in the USA, and respectively for US companies to employ skilled foreign professionals’ news has broken off the planned suspension of the premium processing aspect of the H1B visa. 

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has decided to suspend fast processing for the visa from April 3. The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa for highly qualified workers who often work in the technology sectors, amongst other highly skilled professions, in the US. Technology firms hire thousands of workers from countries such as India using the visa which allows a professional to work for three to six years. Holders of the H1B visa can later apply for additional labor certification in the US and go on to apply for a green card.

Premium processing of H1B visas means that currently companies can apply and obtain faster processing of the H1B visa for an eligible applicant by paying an additional fee of $1225. Thus speeding up the hiring process for highly skilled, often IT based roles across the American states. Normal H1B visa processing takes three to six months. The USCIS cites a backlog of applications as the reason for the suspension which is expected to last for six months.

The decision came shortly after the Indian Foreign Secretary and Commerce Secretary met with US officials with the goal of viewing the H1B via as an issue of international trade and services as opposed to an immigration issue.

Nasscom is The National Association of Software and Services Companies, India’s premier organisation for influencing the IT and IT enabled products and services industry at home and worldwide. Nasscom sees the temporary suspension as likely to create processing delays for Indian and American firms but does not see the changes as a major issue for the technology industry.  They are planning to work with the American Embassy to ensure the mobility of skilled and qualified professionals is not impeded by current policy. 

Other experts have expressed concern the changes with impact Indian IT companies by increasing operational costs and creating a shortfall in skilled workers for the outsourcing industry in India. Currently, the US makes up more than 60 percent of IT export revenue from India.

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