US suspends premium processing of H-1B visas temporarily amid huge rush

Tags: News
The US on Friday said the premium processing of H-1B visas, which are popular among Indian IT firms and professionals, has been suspended temporarily to handle the huge rush of applications for the work visas in the first week of April.

“The (H-1) programme is not suspended. We suspend premium processing, which means we would have to process the application in 15 days,” Lori Scialabba, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) acting director, told members of the House Homeland Security Sub-committee on oversight and management efficiency.

The US will start accepting applications for H-1B work visas from April 3 for the fiscal 2018.

Responding to questions from lawmakers, Scialabba said in the first week of April, USCIS receives 200,000 or more H-1B applications. “We’re unable to process those premium processing, we can’t process cases in 15 days when we get 200,000 in a week. It’s only suspended temporarily,” she said.

“Once we lift the suspension, people are able to file for premium processing and we will process their application within 15 days,” she said.

“I think the other thing to keep in mind is that these visas that they’re applying for in April are not available until October. So what we do is we take them in, we process them, we organise them and then when we’re ready, we let people file for the premium processing if they think that that’s what they need.

“But the visas aren't available until October in any event, so it’s really not delaying anybody from getting their visa when they’re ready to pick up the visa,” she said.

Suspension of the premium processing was being done in previous years too. “What happens in April is that we open a window, where people file -- and usually it’s only for a week, because we get so many applications in that time period. We usually get in between 200,000 and 240,000 applications in one week’s time,” Scialabba said.

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