Columbia – In what can be pegged as a blow to the Indian outsourcing industry, US authorities have temporarily suspending fast-track processing of the H-1B visa.
This particular category of visas is one of the most used by technology firms to recruit foreign skilled workers – specially from countries such as India.
While the move is indicating towards possibly more tough times for immigrant workers, the Trump administration maintains that it has suspended the fast-track process to help the agency reduce overall processing time. The H-1B visa is issued to tens of thousands of highly skilled foreign nationals each year, but as of April 3, applicants will no longer be able to use a costly shortcut to rush the processing of their visas.
On Friday, USCIS announced that the “premium processing” of H-1B visas — which saw wait times reduced from several months to 15 days for the price of $1,225 — would be temporarily suspended for up to six months.
Ever since Trump started campaigning for elections, there has been a constant focus on immigration as well as immigrant workers. White House spokesman Sean Spicer suggested that presidential and congressional action could be taken on H-1B visas as “part of a larger immigration reform effort.”
According to USCIS, the visas go to scientists, engineers, computer programmers or anyone “in specialty occupations that require the theoretical or practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge.”
The United States offers 85,000 H-1B visas every year, most of which are snapped up by Indian outsourcers whose employees fill a skill gap in US engineering. Applications are vastly oversubscribed and are allocated via a lottery system.