The United States has temporarily halted the premium processing facility for the H1B visa, slowing down the visa-granting process to a greater extent.
With new guidelines in place, professional firms will now have to wait until September to see their applications processed.
“This temporary suspension will help us reduce overall H1B visa processing times,” said the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a press release.
“By temporarily suspending premium processing, we will be able to (…) process long-pending petitions, which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years.”
The fast-track processing facility cost applicants an additional fee of US$1,225, but it reduced the time required to obtain the work visa from the usual three to six months to fifteen days.
This is the second time the Trump administration has suspended the premium processing facility. Last year, it stalled the processing for a few months, lifting the suspension in October.
Since he took office in January 2017, the president has made several moves to make the H1B visa application process tougher.
In February this year, his administration tightened the rules around third-party contract work, requiring applicants to submit additional documents and proof. Just over a year ago, a USCIS guidance issued to visa officers made the qualifying criteria for computer programmers more stringent.
The latest move will certainly hurt Indian IT services firms, and it could also impact top Silicon Valley players, such as Microsoft and Google, as they too rely on a significant number of H1B visa holders.