Adding to the ongoing debate about the ill-fated future of H-1B visa reforms, the U.S government has finally made their first definite move. This change in visa regulations introduced by the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) temporarily suspends the expedited processing for H-1B visa petitions. The suspension is expected to last up to six months, with the change slated to take effect from April 3.

For those unaware, H-1B visas are particularly important for high-skilled workers in Silicon Valley. The technology giants are known to employ and sponsor such workers for three to six years to fill in engineering positions. But, the process of bringing them on board will soon become tiresome due to the aforementioned regulation. The expedited process made it exceptionally easy for the bigwigs to on board foreign talent, mostly taking only as long as fifteen days.

Today’s move to suspend expedition comes in the best of interest of individuals as the administration aims to “reduce overall H-1B processing times” but it certainly has its ill-effects. The USCIS, in the official release, says that limiting the said process will enable them to divert focus on processing “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 aims to prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension over 240-days old as well.

Further, the Trump administration isn’t completely eliminating the said expedited procedure. Instead, it is just restricting the process from being exploited and clogging up the line for other H-1B visa petitioners. But, you still have the option to apply for fast processing of your visa request but need to meet at least one of the expedite criteria. The official release on the USCIS website reads,

While premium processing is suspended, petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage.

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.

H-1B visas are extremely important for immigrant techies who’re currently being sponsored by Silicon Valley technology giants. This change in the process of gaining approval for the visas is just a soft blow. The major reforms have been presented to the U.S House of Representatives through the bill titled “High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017.”

The suggestions include more than doubling the minimum salary for H-1B visa holders from $60,000 to $130,000, thus, jeopardizing the Indian IT sector. Also, PM Modi has asked U.S to keep an open mind while defining visa reforms, citing the role of skilled Indian talent in enriching the American economy and society. However, these IT giants have already lost as much as $5 billion in market cap since the introduction of this bill.

The reforms are said to be aimed at creating more jobs inside the country, but NASSCOM states that it may prove detrimental for the foreign countries. But, it further goes on to say that it’ll also not save American jobs as the administration is expecting from the bill.

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