Suspension on expedited H-1B visa to affect IT cos: Nasscom

Mar 06, 2017, 00:16

"This has happened in the past for a couple of months to clear the backlog and we will work with the US Embassy in India to enable mobility of skilled talent is not impacted due to process issues", Nasscom said.

This H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2017 was introduced by a group of four USA lawmakers including Indian American Ro Khanna, Bill Pascrell, Dave Brat, and Paul Gosar. And some top American companies and Indian outsourcing companies are among the largest users of this category of skilled worker visas.

"The temporary suspension of premium H-1B processing will create some process delays for the companies - Indian and American - but is not a significant impediment", said the National Association of Software Services and Companies (Nasscom) in a statement. The USCIS uses a computer-generated process, also known as the lottery, to randomly select the petitions. Before this rule was passed, the company was allowed to file an application to expedite the processing of that petition, after paying an additional fee of $1,225, thus ensuring a response from the USCIS within 15 days, rather than the three to six months they normally take.

At present, the United States has a cap of 65,000 visas for the general category under H-1B visas and allows a further 20,000 people who have a USA master's degree from an accredited institution to also apply.

The USCIS decision will affect H-1B visa for FY18 as these can not be filed before 3 April.

In a notice posted on its website, the USCIS said the suspension could last up to six months. The decision would affect all petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. The timing of the USCIS announcement, within hours of an Indian foreign ministry delegation saying it had received a positive response from the USA on H-1B visas, also raised some eyebrows. Several government representatives have earlier said that India was engaged with the administration of new US President Donald Trump, as well as members of the US Congress on concerns regarding the H-1B visa issue. The suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt.

However, immigration attorney Jason Finkelman said the wait time for an H-1B visa in California is now eight months, and that the delay "has everything to do with an understaffed, overworked U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services". It's said that it is the petitioner's responsibility to demonstrate to meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and petitioners shall have to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request.

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