Sunday, March 5, 2017

U.S. Suspends Expedited Processing of H1B Visas

The U.S. is temporarily suspending Expedited processing of H-1B Visas, eliminating the option of shorter wait times for the program that helps highly skilled foreigners work at U.S. companies.

Under the current system, companies submitting applications for H-1B Visas for potential employees can pay Extra for Expedited processing, which is referred to as Premium processing. Premium processing costs an additional $1,225 and ensures a response from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in 15 days or the Fee is Refunded. Processing of standard H-1B applications takes between three to six months.

The suspension is effective April 3rd, and could last up to six months, according to USCIS.

The H-1B Visa program is the main pathway for highly skilled Foreigners to work at U.S. companies. Various industries, including Tech, Engineering, Journalism, Medicine, and Academia, vie each year for the program's 85,000 Visas.

The Visas are doled out by a Lottery, and the number of applicants continues to swell each year. Last year, the demand was three times greater than the quota.

Outsourcing firms flood the system with applicants, obtaining Visas for Foreign workers, then Farming them out to Tech companies. They take a sizable cut of the salary. While the Visas are used to fill the U.S. skills gap, Trump has spoken out about abuse of the program.

A bipartisan Bill introduced this week in Congress calls for Reform of Visas for highly skilled workers. Lawmakers for years have debated proposals to change the popular H-1B Visa program, with suggestions for how to fix it a highly contentious topic.

The proposed Legislation would eliminate the Lottery system in favor of a "Preference System" created by USCIS to give priority to Foreign Students educated in the U.S. In doing so, it would aim to weed out Foreign Outsourcing firms, which are said to exploit the system.

It would also require Employers to make a "Good Faith Effort" to recruit American workers over Foreigners, as well as give the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor more Authority to investigate Fraud and Abuse.

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