During the campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly criticized the H-1B program, which allows US businesses to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. In an order issued late Friday, Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that H-1B premium processing will be suspended beginning April 3 and will continue for up to six months.
The hostile move will hit businesses all across, especially the Indians who receive approximately 70% of the non-immigrant visas.
In a press release posted on Friday, USCIS stated that the temporary suspension will help the administration "reduce overall H1-B processing times." It reasoned out the move by stated that USCIS will be able to process long-pending petitions which it has been unable to process due to large number of incoming petitions. It also said it will now, "Prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark."
While premium processing is suspended, petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria. "We review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership," states the note.
H1-B is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies, including those from India, depend on it for hiring tens of thousands of employees each year.
Under the current system, a company who is sponsoring a potential employee or current employee’s H-1B petition may fill out a form to expedite the processing of that petition. After paying an additional $1,225 fee for this service, USCIS responds typically in 15 days, whereas standard H-1B petitions may take anywhere between three to six months to receive a judgement.