The United States government has decided to resume premium processing of H-1B visa applications. This comes as a huge relief for Indian IT workers hoping to take up a job in the US. In March this year the US suspended this procedure which expedites the processing of an H-1B visa application at an extra fee of $1225.
India is the biggest beneficiary of the US H-1B visa program. As per the latest figures released by the US government, Indians received 70 percent of all H-1B visas issued worldwide. No wonder then that when that the Trump administration ordered a review of the H-1B program and later suspended the fast-tracking procedure, the move sparked fears in the Indian IT sector. Over the last six months, top honchos of India's IT sector and senior diplomats have been lobbying the US government to prevent or minimize the effects of any curtailment of the H-1B visa program.
While the H-1B continues to be under review, India's IT sector can breathe easy. A US Embassy spokesperson told Republic, "On September 18, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service resumed premium processing for all H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year 2018 cap". Under the premium processing service, the American government guarantees the processing of an H-1B visa application in 15 calendar days.
Industry body NASSCOM welcomed the move. R Chandrashekhar, the President of NASSCOM, told Republic, "Usually the fast-tracking procedure is suspended for two months every year. The fact that it was suspended for six months this year is what led to all the speculation. It is a positive development which shows that business needs of companies are being kept in mind while safeguarding US interests".
A senior US Official told Republic that there is no change in the H-1B visa policy so far and it continues to be under review. In a recent conversation with Republic, Alyssa Ayres, a senior diplomat in the Obama administration had said, "Any change in the H-1B policy is a long procedure which will eventually have to be ratified by the US Congress".