The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that H1B visa application process will begin on 2 April. The H1B visa, which is a non-immigrant work visa, is highly popular with Indian IT companies as it allows them to recruit a large number of skilled professionals.
In its announcement, the USCIS, however, said that it suspended temporarily H1B visa premium processing, which is subject to annual ceilings, in order to cut down the total processing time. The visa applications are being filed for the fiscal year 2019 commencing 1 October 2018.
It is expected that the suspension of premium processing of H1B visa applications will not be revoked until 10 September 2018. But the USCIS said that it will accept premium processing petition requests that are not subject to the 2019 ceilings.
The USCIS was quoted by Press Trust of India as saying that the public would be notified before they commence premium processing for H1B petitions, which are subject to caps or making any other updates for premium processing.
The USCIS said that though premium processing has been suspended, an applicant is allowed to submit a request to expedite an H1B petition, which is subject t the fiscal year 2019 cap-subject if it meets the expedited requirements.
The USCIS said that by suspending premium processing temporarily it will be able to process long-pending petitions, which it was unable to process currently because of the high volume of petitions and the substantial increase of premium processing requests during the last few years. It will also in the meantime, accord priority to the assessment of extension of H1B of status cases that are close to the 240-day mark.
An applicant, who is an H1B non-immigrant, may be allowed for up to three years. There is a possibility of extending the time period, but it cannot exceed six years total.
The yearly limit cap for H1B visas is 65,000 cases as per the mandate of the Congress. The initial 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries having a master’s degree or higher of the US are exempt from the ceiling.
In addition, holders of H1B visas who have appealed for or working at a higher education institution or its affiliated or related nonprofit bodies or research organizations, which are either nonprofits or of governments, are not subject to these ceilings.
The USCIS said between 2007 and 2017, the maximum number of 2.2 million H1B petitions were received from highly-skilled Indians, followed by Chinese with 301,000 petitions in the same period.
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