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US fast-tracks processing of cap-exempt H-1B visa applications

25 July 2017

In a big relief to Indians looking to move to the United States or are already resident there, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has notified that it will resume premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions, on an immediate basis.

Such H-1B visas, used by highly skilled foreign workers in categories exempted from the limit mandated by the US Congress, are mostly requested by higher education institutions and scientific research organisations.

''US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will resume premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions effective immediately,'' an official statement read.

The H-1B visa has an annual cap of 65,000 each fiscal year. Additionally, there is an annual "master`s cap" of 20,000 petitions filed for beneficiaries with a US master's degree or higher.

Applicants who are eligible for premium processing can file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.

Form I-907 can be filed together with an H-1B petition or separately for a pending H-1B petition, the USCIS stated in a notification.

President Donald Trump, who had vowed curbs on immigrants during his election campaign, claiming that they were taking jobs from American citizens, had in April, signed an executive order for tightening the rules and called for a review of the programme to stop visa abuse.

The H1-B visa allows foreign nationals, having certain skills, to temporarily work in the US.

Trump had said that his government is going to put in force 'Hire American' rule in order to protect the jobs and wages of Americans.

The H1-B visa programme, popular with Indian techies, is often used by the US companies to employ graduate-level professionals in various specialised areas, including information technology (IT).

Premium processing will resume for petitions that may be exempt from the cap if the H-1B petitioner is an institution of higher education, a nonprofit related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education; or a nonprofit research or governmental research organisation.

Premium processing will also resume for petitions that may also be exempt if the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, organisation or entity.

Earlier, USCIS had announced that premium processing resumed on June 26 for H-1B petitions filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program as well as interested government agency waivers.

USCIS plans to resume premium processing of other H-1B petitions as workloads permit.

The notification further highlighted that the USCIS will make additional announcements with specific details related to when they will begin accepting premium processing for those petitions. Until then, premium processing remains temporarily suspended for all other H-1B petitions, it said.

Further, the USCIS will reject any Form I-907 filed for those petitions, and if the petitioner submitted one check combining the Form I-907 and Form I-129 fees, the USCIS will reject both forms.

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