India's software and services trade association National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) on Sunday said that United States halting the premium processing of the H1-B visas will cause process delays for Indian forms too. However, the association said that the move will not be a "significant impediment" for the Indian outsourcing industry worth over $110 billion.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) last week on Friday had announced that it will "temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions" starting from April 3. The department, in a statement, had said that the suspension may last up to six months and that it was a move by the administration to speed up all the applications.
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The suspension of the H1-B visa premium processing has come even though India last month had pressed US for a fair and rational approach on the matter from a trade and business perspective.
"The current issue of the temporary suspension of premium H-1B processing will create some process delays for the companies - Indian and American -- but is not a significant impediment," Nasscom said a statement said.
The USCIS had said that the suspension was not on the H1-B visas, but only of the "Premium Processing", which allows firms to pay $1,225 to move to the top of the queue of those waiting for their applications to be processed. The standard application process for H1-B visas usually takes 3 to 6 months, while premium processing is a fast-track method.
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The US H1-B visa is a non-immigrant visa, which allows firms to hire foreign workers in specialised occupations. The H-1B and L1 work visas are majorly used by Indian IT professionals. Currently, the cap on H1B visas stands at 65,000, out of which 25,000-35,000 are issued to Indian nationals
The decision to suspend the fast-track process was announced just hours before top Indian officials — foreign secretary S Jaishankar and commerce secretary Rita Teotia — held meetings with US lawmakers to consider the H1-B visa issue as a trade and services matter, and not an immigration one.
Nasscom said that it will work with the US embassy in India to ensure that the movement of Indian IT professionals is not hit by such process issues.
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"This has happened in the past couple of months to clear the backlog and we will work with the US embassy in India to enable mobility of skilled talent is not impacted due to process issues," Nasscom added.
US President Trump had previously claimed to "forever end" the use of H1-B visas for cheaper labour and his top adviser Stephen Bannon has said that there was an issue with the number of Asian CEOs in Silicon Valley.
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