A US federal agency announced on Tuesday that petitions for H1-B visas will be accepted from April 2, but that the premium processing would be suspended.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the suspension of premium processing of all H-1B petitions which are subject to annual caps.
The statement said, “We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions or making any other premium processing updates.”
The USCIS said while premium processing is suspended, a petitioner may submit a request to expedite an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition if it meets the expedited criteria.
The USCIS also said that the temporary suspension of premium processing will help it reduce overall H-1B processing time.
The suspension of the premium processing of all H-1B applications subject to annual caps should last until 10 September 2018. During this period, USCIS stated that it will continue to accept premium processing requests for H-1B petitions that are not subject to the fiscal cap of 2019.
The H-1B petition filing beginning from April is for the fiscal year 2019 beginning October 1, 2018.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to hire foreign workers in special occupations that require theoretical or technical skills. Technology companies depend on this to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries such as India and China.
As an H-1B non-immigrant, the applicant may be admitted for a period of up to 3 years. The time period may be extended, but normally cannot go beyond a total of six years.
The H1-B visa has an annual numerical limit cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year as mandated by the US Congress. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a US master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap.
As per USCIS, from 2007 to 2017, it received the maximum number of 2.2 million H-1B petitions from high-skilled Indians. India was followed by China with 301,000 H-1B petitions during the same period.
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