United States resumes fast processing of some H-1B visa categories

Washington: The US has announced resuming faster processing of H-1B work visas, popular with Indian techies, for high skilled foreign professionals in categories exempt from Congress-mandated limit, which are mostly for higher education and scientific research institutions.

The H1-B 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, Trump had promised to increase oversight of H-1B and L-1 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 H-1B visa has cap 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 H-1B 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 June 26 for H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program as well as interested government agency waivers.

The federal agency also plans to resume premium processing of other H-1B 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 H-1B petitions.