Posts Tagged ‘skilled-worker visa program’

U.S. to Temporarily Suspend Fast-Track Processing of H-1B Visas

March 7, 2017

Move not related to revised travel restrictions announced Monday

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March 6, 2017 6:54 p.m. ET

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it plans to temporarily suspend fast-track processing for the skilled-worker visa program, a move that could slow down the process of hiring foreign workers for U.S. companies.

Starting April 3 and running for up to six months, the agency will no longer allow H-1B applicants to pay an additional fee of $1,225 to get a response within 15 days — a program known as premium processing. Regular processing, where the fee varies based on the type of employment being sought, can last between three and six months.

Paying for premium processing doesn’t affect the outcome of the annual lottery, which applicants must win to receive a visa. In 2015, 233,000 applications were filed in less than a week for the visas, which are capped at 85,000. In past years, applicants who won the lottery and had included the additional fee in their application would be processed at a faster rate, while those who lost the lottery wouldn’t have their checks cashed.

U.S. companies can sponsor 65,000 foreigners with at least a bachelor’s degree from any university, and an additional 20,000 visas go to individuals with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions. Universities and nonprofits, which aren’t subject to a cap, also use H-1Bs to hire many workers each year.

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